By David A. Willauer
Special to The Capital Sports Report
The University of Delaware, who opened pre-season camp last Tuesday, were predicted as high as finishing in 3rd place in the CAA Mens Soccer Conference Poll, according to the coaches polls.
Old Dominion was named the preseason favorite, earning 9 first place votes along with 99 points while James Madison was predicted in second place with one first place vote along with 81 points and the Hens with 72. William and Mary was picked fourth followed by Northeastern, George Mason, Georgia State, Hofstra, University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Drexel and Towson round out the pack.
The top 6 teams will advance to the CAA Soccer Tournament coming in November and also have been regarded as one of the top mens soccer soccer confererence’s in the nation and last year sent four teams to the NCAA Mens Soccer Tournament and had one team advance to the round of 16 in the NCAA’s in seven of the last 10 years.
Last year, the Hens had a miracle year as head coach Ian Hennessy led the squad to a miracle 13-6-4 along with the first-ever CAA conference title and regular season title since 1983. The Hens knocked off Northeastern, top-seeded James Madison and the second-seed Monarchs of Old Dominion University to the CAA title a year ago.
In the 2011 NCAA Men’s Soccer tournament, the Hens knocked off 2009 and defending national champion University of Virginia in double overtime down in Charlottesville, by a 1-0 score in 2 overtimes before falling to 2011 NCAA runner-up the Bruins of UCLA. During the 2011 season, the Hens were nominated as Team of the Year by the Delaware Broadcasters and Sportswriters.
The Hens return 10 lettermen who return from last year’s squad are junior forward Roberto Gimenez (10g, 7a), was named CAA Rookie of the Year and first-team All-CAA. Also back are junior midfielder Vincent Mediate (4g, 3a) and starting defenders Yoan Fontaine, John Dineen, and Prince Nartey. However, the Hens must replace All-American and CAA Player of the Year Evans Frimpong who led the team with 12 goals.
Old Dominion returns 10 starters from last year’s 12-6-2 team that advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament while JMU returns five starters from a team that posted a mark of 13-5-2 a year ago and advanced to the final 16 at the NCAA Tournament.
2012 CAA MEN’S SOCCER PRE-SEASON COACHES POLL:
1. Old Dominion – 99 points (9 first place)
2. James Madison – 81 (1)
3. Delaware – 72
4. William & Mary – 69
5. Northeastern – 61
6. George Mason – 58 (1)
7. Georgia State – 57
8. Hofstra, UNCW - 34
10. Drexel – 24
11. Towson -16