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Men's Soccer: CSS to again claim UMAC title in 2014

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Men's Soccer: CSS to again claim UMAC title in 2014
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ST. PAUL – The College of St. Scholastica, winner of four consecutive Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) regular season championships, was the unanimous favorite to win the league title again in 2014 according to a poll of the league's coaches. The Saints claimed seven first place votes to go with 49 points, besting second place University of Minnesota Morris by five points.

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2014 UMAC Men's Soccer Coaches' Poll

1. 49 Points – College of St. Scholastica (7 First Place Votes)

2. 42 Points – University of Minnesota Morris (1)

3. 38 Points – University of Northwestern

4. 31 Points – Bethany Lutheran College

5. 22 Points – Martin Luther College

6. 19 Points – Crown College

7. 13 Points – Northland College

8. 10 Points – North Central University

1. College of St. Scholastica Saints

2013 Overall Record: 17-3-3

2013 UMAC Record: 14-0

2013 UMAC Finish: 1st

Starters Returning: 5

Starters Lost: 6

The 2013 St. Scholastica men's soccer team was the most prolific scoring team in NCAA Division III history, recording 113 goals on its way to its second straight NCAA Tournament appearance. For the second straight season, the Saints went unbeaten and untied in league play and enter this season on a 61-game regular season UMAC unbeaten streak.

The Saints will have to replace the program's career leading scorer Joe Watt. Watt broke the program record by registering a penalty kick goal against Gustavus Adolphus in the first round of last year's NCAA Division III Tournament. Watt finished with 159 career points, including 73 assists. Other notable players not back for the Saints include goalkeeper Adam Hewitt, midfielder Ryan Cullen and defenders Caleb Yurek and Antony Blackburn.

Head Coach Barry Chastey remains confident with his front six as he has returning top goal scorer and UMAC Offensive Player of the Year Andrew Jenkins after recording a NCAA Division III-best 33 goals in 2013. Also back is midfielder Tom Corcoran, who had 27 goals last season and midfielder Sean Morgan, who registered 22 assists. UMAC Defensive Player of the Year Ben Cullen also returns to the backline.

Another surprise returnee is sophomore forward Kyle Farrar. Farrar last played for the Saints in 2011, where he finished second in the conference with 16 goals and was a second team NSCAA All-North Region selection.

The Saints will need to find steady play at center back and right back if they want to make another run for nationals this season. Coach Chastey has brought in three quality goalkeepers that will battle for the No. 1 spot.

2. University of Minnesota Morris Cougars

2013 Overall Record: 11-9-1

2013 UMAC Record: 10-3-1

2013 UMAC Finish: T-2nd

Starters Returning: 8

Starters Lost: 3

Minnesota Morris has brought in a lot of new players for the 2014 season but also has a lot of talent returning from a 2013 squad that reached the UMAC Championship match.

2013 UMAC Coach of the Year Scott Turnbull will have four All-UMAC players back including UMAC First Teamer William Wachutka who netted four goals and added five assists in 2013. Goal keeper Jacob Borash returns for the Cougars as do Austin Keller and Shingo Yamane.

Keller finished the 2013 season with 19 points, including eight goals while Yamane added five goals and seven assists last season.

However, the Cougars will need to find a way to replace three time first-team all conference honoree and 2013 Co-Offensive Player of the Year Ebrima Badgie this season.

The Cougars will welcome a large incoming class which will add depth and talent to the team as they look to challenge for a UMAC title in 2014.

3. University of Northwestern Eagles

2013 Overall Record: 10-9-1

2013 UMAC Record: 10-3-1

2013 UMAC Finish: T-2nd

Starters Returning: 10

Starters Lost: 4

Northwestern hopes to gain steam after graduating four players in May, two of which garnered all-conference awards throughout their careers. The Eagles allowed just 20 goals during league play last year, a nod to the UNW defense, while the offense got 250 shots off at the same time.

2013 UMAC Rookie of the Year and first team All-UMAC player Eric Fast and teammate Joshua Fryc will lead the offense again this year. Fast started 18 games his freshman season, scoring four goals and adding five assists. Fryc, a forward, was the top scorer with nine goals-- four of which were game-winning--sealing his second team all-conference position.

Shane Coleman enters his senior season on a school record-breaking high. Tops in both the program's career and season shutouts lists at the end of 2013, the goalkeeper looks to build upon last year's 76 saves. The loss of three-time all-conference performer Matt Flanders on defense will be tough to bounce back from, but returners Robbie Denniston and Brandon Detweiler should soften the blow.

4. Bethany Lutheran College Vikings

2013 Overall Record: 11-9

2013 UMAC Record: 9-5

2013 UMAC Finish: 4th

Starters Returning: 6

Starters Lost: 5

The Bethany men's soccer team brings back a seasoned group of veterans in 2014 in hopes of qualifying for UMAC postseason play for the third straight season.

Returning is leading goal scorer Ben Moldstad. The junior netted ten goals and had a team high of 26 points. He was UMAC Rookie of the Year two years ago and was named to the UMAC Second Team last season. Also back is the team's second leading scorer Michael Loguercio. He tallied four goals and five assists in 2013.

Even though the Vikings have a strong core returning, what they lost will be tough to replace. All-UMAC performers, midfielder Juan Garcia and defender Johnny Luna have graduated as well as their starting goalkeepers Noah Heidorn and Ryan Bolte.

If Bethany stays healthy all season, they should be in contention for another postseason berth. Depth may be an issue though so the bench will need to step up when needed to.

5. Martin Luther College Knights

2013 Overall Record: 5-14

2013 UMAC Record: 4-10

2013 UMAC Finish: 5th

Starters Returning: 6

Starters Lost: 6

The 2014 Martin Luther College men's soccer team is looking to improve on last season's 5-14 finish overall and 4-10 record in league play with seven returning starters from the 2013 season.

Senior midfielder Stephen Roekle returns to lead the offense after receiving Honorable Mention All-UMAC recognition in 2013. Roekle led the Knights with five assists last season, but will need to help an offense that lost several of its top goal-scoring options from last season. 

Aaron Markgraf returns as the top goal scorer after scoring six times as a freshman in 2013 and finishing with 14 total points.

Midfielders Isaiah Horn and Jacob Sheppard also return as starters from last season, while Jacob Zietlow also saw extensive action in the midfield last season.

Goalkeeper Eric Hahn returns in goal for the Knights after finishing 2013 third in the conference with 146 saves and a goals against average of 3.11. Micah Koelpin returns after starting all 19 games last year on defense, and will look to man the middle of a unit that will need to break in several inexperienced performers to start the season.

6. Crown College Storm

2013 Overall Record: 4-13-1

2013 UMAC Record: 3-10-1

2013 UMAC Finish: 6th

Starters Returning: 6

Starters Lost: 5

The 2014 Men's Soccer team will head in a new direction this year as Alex Reyes begins his first year as the head coach of the program.

After two seasons under a part-time coach, the Storm hope to show improved fitness and organization under Reyes.

Truman Shetler returns for his senior season with his sights set on the career scoring record at Crown while David Jensen mans the midfield for his third year as a starter. Captain Eric Strohbeen will see time at both midfield and right back while left back Daniel Arellano will organize the team's defense.

Coach Reyes will welcome a host of newcomers, with a large number of international students among them. Goalkeeper Justin Lao should be an upgrade after years of piecing that position together, while players from Asia and Europe join a team with significant diversity.

7. Northland College LumberJacks

2013 Overall Record: 4-15-1

2013 UMAC Record: 2-11-1

2013 UMAC Finish: 7th

Starters Returning: 6

Starters Lost: 2

The Northland College Men's Soccer team is coming off a 2013 season in which they began to close the gap on the rest of the conference. Coach Kirsten is looking for his core group of players to lead the team to reach their potential this season. Last year's 4-15-1 record showed the growth that was expected of them, and now it's time for them to bring this team back to their former glory. The team will look to build confidence off of last year's success, and with a more seasoned group of starters they hope to be a factor in the UMAC conference this year.

Returning for the Lumberjacks this year will be junior midfielder Will Gibbens, 2nd Team All-Conference (3 goals, 4 assists), junior goalkeeper Colton Schreyer (183 saves), junior defender Kert Wuestenhagen, midfielders Nick Smith and lone senior Zeke Yslas, and sophomore forward Thomas Jansen (2 goals).

Newcomers for the Jacks include transfers defender Grant Ebert and midfielder Gus Burgmeier as well as defender/midfielder Andrew Merwin, defender Dan Kuntsch, defender Jacob Rodmaker and midfielder Sam Tharpgeorge. These players will hope to provide speed, size, and technical ability to the Jacks' lineup this season.

With a combination of seasoned, experienced players and enthusiastic, youthful freshmen, Northland hopes to put the pieces together to create a team that will be a challenge to play against.

8. North Central University Rams

2013 Overall Record: 2-12-3

2013 UMAC Record: 1-11-2

2013 UMAC Finish: 8th

Starters Returning: 3

Starters Lost: 5

NCU Men's Soccer will look quite different from last year's squad. With almost half the roster graduating and very few upperclassmen, the team will be almost entirely made up of freshmen and sophomores. That said, the team is ready and eager to take on the challenges that come with being younger and less experienced at the college game.

The Rams are looking to sophomores Tyler Maag, a 2013 Honorable Mention All-UMAC selection, Luke Majerle, and Jake Salem to help lead the team through the rebuilding process. The entire team will be depending on their drive, commitment, and positive attitudes and they are up for the challenge.

The Rams coaching staff of head coach Jake Smith and assistant Nate Kemper return for their 5th season together.

UMAC teams will kick off their season starting Aug. 29 with the conference season beginning on Sept. 16. An automatic berth to the NCAA Championships will be on the line again for the winner of the UMAC Men's Soccer Tournament.

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