Aug. 14, 2006
Fairfield, CT - The Pioneers men's soccer team was picked to finish fifth in the Northeast Conference preseason coaches' poll released Monday by the conference office.
Monmouth has emerged as the preseason favorite to capture the 2006 Northeast Conference men's soccer championship. The Hawks were awarded five first place votes, beating out Fairleigh Dickinson, which was picked second and corralled three first place votes. Central Connecticut State took the third spot in the poll, just ahead of Robert Morris, which earned one first place vote and was picked fourth.
The Pioneers made their NEC Tournament debut last season and established a school Division I record with seven victories. Picked by NEC head coaches to finish last in the 2005 preseason poll, the Pioneers exceeded all expectations as head coach Joe Barroso engineered a six-game improvement in his first year at the helm of the program. Three freshman earned all-conference recognition for Sacred Heart in 2005, led by high scoring midfielder/forward Jason Tessitore (Ansonia, CT/Amity). Tessitore tied for the league lead among NEC freshman with eight goals and ranked third overall in the conference. He also finished fourth in the league with 17 points. A pair of English imports - first team defender Anthony Anzevui (Newcastle, England/Monkseaton) and second team netminder Matthew Jones (Stoke-on-Trent, England/Sandon) - bolstered a stifling defense that yielded just seven goals in nine league games and recorded seven shutouts.
Sacred Heart will open the 2006 season with a visit to Providence on Friday, August 25th. The Pioneers play their first home game on September 9th when they host Maine. The 2006 NEC Men's Soccer Tournament will take place at the home of the high seed on November 3 & 5. The top four teams in the regular season standings will advance to the postseason event. The winner of the NEC Tournament will receive the league's automatic bid to the 2006 NCAA Men's Soccer College Cup.