EMMITSBURG, Md. - The Mount St. Mary's men's soccer team has been tabbed sixth in the Northeast Conference (NEC) Preseason Coaches Poll, announced on Wednesday by the league.
Monmouth, the defending NEC Tournament champions, received seven first-place votes to be selected as the preseason favorite. Fairleigh Dickinson picked up two first-place nods to rank second in the poll while Saint Francis (Pa.) took the final first-place vote to place third. Sacred Heart rounded out the top-4 while St. Francis (N.Y), the Mount, Central Connecticut State, Quinnipiac, LIU Brooklyn, Robert Morris and Bryant round out the 11-team poll. Bryant will be eligible for the NEC Tournament for the first time in team history after completing the five-year Division I transition last year.
The top-4 teams advance to the NEC Tournament on Nov. 9 and 11 at the home of the regular season champion.
The Mount returns its leading scorer from 2011 in sophomore forward Zoncher Dennis (Swarthmore, Pa./Strath Haven), who paced the team with 11 goals and one assist for 23 points. The sophomore, who was named the NEC Rookie of the Year and gained national recognition with a spot on the College Soccer News All-Freshman first team, paced the NEC in goals (11), goals per game (0.69), points (23), points per game (1.44) and game-winning goals (6) while ranking ninth in shots per game (2.19). He became the sixth player in Mount Division I history to reach double digits for goals and his 11 tallies rank fifth on the Mount Division I single-season chart. Dennis tied a single-game program record when he scored four times against LaSalle on Sept. 24.
Junior midfielder Jimmy Ockford (Yardley, Pa./Pennsbury) is the squad's second-ranked returning scorer after posting three goals and three assists for nine points. Sophomore midfielder Matthew Steele (Mechanicsburg, Pa./Mechanicsburg) was third on the team with a tally and three assists for five points while senior defender Alex Ockford (Yardley, Pa./Pennsbury) found the twine twice for four points in 2011.
Senior netmider Peter Steve (Dallas, Pa./Dallas) returns for his senior year after posting 61 saves, a 0.96 goals against average and a .782 save percentage in his first season as a starter in-between the pipes.
Mount St. Mary's finished 8-7-2 overall and 5-4-1 in NEC play last season. It was the first time the Mountaineers finished with a winning mark since 2003 while the squad posted a winning record in the league for the third time in the last four years. The Mount finished the regular season leading the NEC in points (74) and goals (24) and ranked second in assists (26).
The Mountaineers open its 60th campaign in program history at home against Towson on Aug. 28. Match time is 4 p.m.