West Babylon, N.Y. - After earning the program's first-ever East Coast Conference and NCAA Division II Championship berths a season ago, University of the District of Columbia starts 2018 atop the ECC Men's Soccer Preseason Coaches' Poll. The coaches also selected UDC standouts Gabriel Torres (Salvador, Brazil) and Michael Agboola (London, England) as the ECC Preseason Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year honorees.
UDC received six of 10 first place votes to top the coaches' survey with 93 points. The Firebirds posted the most successful season in program history in 2017 with a 15-7 record, a runner-up finish in the ECC Championship, and a first-ever NCAA Championship berth and victory. Expectations are high for UDC due in part to the return of six All-Conference honorees, including the conference's preseason award honorees in Torres and Agboola.
Torres takes home the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year honor after turning in one of the most prolific offensive seasons in league history a year ago. He finished the 2017 campaign with 20 goals and 12 assists for 52 points. His goal and point numbers, as well as his points per game (2.36) and game-winning goal (8) totals, ranked in the top-three nationally. In addition, he finished in the top-15 in Division II in assists, goals per game (0.91), and assists per game (0.55). Torres' offensive exploits earned him numerous honors including ECC Offensive Player of the Year, Division II Conference Commissioner's Association (D2CCA) East Region Player of the Year, and a spot on the D2CCA and United Soccer Coaches (USC) All-America Team.
Agboola was another big part of the Firebirds' success as their defensive anchor. With Agboola leading the way, the Firebirds shutout six opponents, allowed no more than one goal in 13 games, and finished with third in the ECC with a 1.40 goals against average. Agboola also contributed one goal and one assist on the season. His outstanding play was rewarded with a spot on the ECC All-Conference First Team and the D2CCA and USC All-East Region lists as a Second Team selection.
With four first place votes and 88 points, LIU Post comes in at No. 2 in the poll, marking the first time since 2011 the Pioneers have not started the season as the favorite to capture the league's championship. The Pioneers, who won their fifth ECC title in six years and third NCAA East Region Championship in four years last season, will take to the pitch under new head coach, Michael Mordocco. The Pioneers lose five All-Conference honorees from last year's roster but ECC Goalkeeper of the Year, Oliver Hessner Hansen, and Rookie of the Year, Lukas Ostermann, return for LIU Post.
Mercy and NYIT come in at No. 3 and No. 4 with 75 and 74 points, respectively, to round out the teams expected to make the ECC's postseason tournament.
2018 ECC Men's Soccer Preseason Poll
|1. Dist. Columbia (6)||93||15-7-0 (6-3-0 ECC)|
|2. LIU Post (4)||88||18-1-2 (8-0-1 ECC)|
|3. Mercy||75||13-5-0 (7-2-0 ECC)|
|4. NYIT||74||9-9-1 (5-4-0 ECC)|
|5. Queens||50||8-6-2 (4-3-2 ECC)|
|6. Bridgeport||43||4-10-1 (3-5-1 ECC)|
|7. Molloy||42||5-12-0 (3-6-0 ECC)|
|8. St. Thomas Aquinas||38||5-9-1 (3-6-0 ECC)|
|9. Daemen||34||7-11-0 (3-6-0 ECC)|
|10. Roberts Wesleyan||13||4-13-0 (1-8-0 ECC)|
( ) - first place votes