LOCK HAVEN – West Chester University and Mercyhurst University were selected to win their respective divisions in the 2021 Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Preseason Poll voted on by the coaches, the league office announced Wednesday.
West Chester closed out the 2019 PSAC men’s soccer season with a 15-4-1 overall record and a 9-2-1 PSAC mark. The Golden Rams fell in the PSAC Semifinals to Gannon in overtime, and later closed out its season in the NCAA DII Tournament First Round with a loss to Assumption. They bring back some talent, however, for 2021 returning a pair of United Soccer Coaches All-Atlantic Region honorees in Craig Potts and Doug Gotia. Potts was also PSAC East Defensive Player of the Year, while Gotia was one of the most clutch players in the league, tallying three game-winning goals for the Golden Rams. He also had eight goals and one assist on the season. West Chester is seeking its first PSAC Men’s Soccer Title.
Two-time defending PSAC Champion Millersville was picked second in the East following a 13-6-2 2019 campaign. The Marauders also only had one loss in PSAC East play going 9-1-2. Millersville brings back Matteo Adiletta, who played the most minutes for the Marauders in 2019. Adiletta was an All-Region honoree tallying 10 points (4 goals, 2 assists) at midfield. All-Region honoree Aaron Maynard also returns, as one of the top defenders in the PSAC.
Picked third in the East, the ESU Warriors, are looking to come back strong in 2021 after going 11-5-3 overall and 7-4-1 in PSAC East play in 2019. The Warriors were also the team to hand Millersville its lone conference loss in 2019 with a 1-0 OT win in Millersville. ESU returns one of its top scorers from 2019 as well in Bradley Turocy. Turocy tallied 17 points on seven goals and three assists.
Behind ESU was Lock Haven. The Bald Eagles are coming off a solid 2019 campaign having gone 10-8-0 including putting together a solid home record of 7-3-0. Despite missing the PSAC Tournament, the Bald Eagles won four of their last five contests to conclude the season.
Bloomsburg, Shippensburg and Shepherd rounded out the Eastern Division preseason poll.
The Lakers were one of the few teams who played in a shortened season in 2020-21 and ended the year with 6-0-0 record. In those six games, they outscored their opponents 21-4. In 2019, the Lakers ended the season 10-6-2 overall and 6-3-1 in PSAC West play. Mercyhurst is missing quite a few players from its 2019 roster, however, they had no trouble scoring in their 2020-21 shortened season. Their top two scorers from the shortened season were Fabio Schortmann and Thomas Barry. In goal, they’ll likely have Mattias Odelius available.
Following behind Mercyhurst, is rival Gannon. The Golden Knights were also one of the teams that played in a shortened 2020-21 season and were 3-3-0. Gannon enters this year as the only PSAC team with a United Soccer Coaches Top-25 Preseason Poll ranking coming in at No. 17. Gannon was the 2019 defending PSAC Championship Tournament runner-up falling to Millersville in the PSAC Championship match. They finished the year with an 18-3-0 record overall and fell in the second round in the NCAA DII Tournament. Sergio Del Castillo returns to the pitch for Gannon and was one of the team’s top scorers in 2019 tallying 24 points (9 goals, 6 assists).
Right behind the Lakers was Seton Hill. The Griffins were 7-10-1 overall and 3-6-1 in conference play. Archie Lock, the Griffins’ top scorer in 2019 tallied 12 points on six goals and is back in the lineup for the 2021 season.
The fourth-ranked program in the PSAC West is Slippery Rock. The Rock enter 2021 having gone 8-9-2 in 2019 overall and 5-5-0 in league games. Alejandro Fernandez is the top returning scorer for Slippery Rock. He registered 12 points on five goals and two assists in 2019.
Rounding out the PSAC West is California (Pa.) and Pitt-Johnstown.
The full PSAC East and West Preseason Polls are listed below:
PSAC Men’s Soccer Preseason Polls
EAST (# of 1st place votes)
1. West Chester (4)
2. Millersville (3)
3. East Stroudsburg
4. Lock Haven
1. Mercyhurst (4)
2. Gannon (2)
3. Seton Hill
4. Slippery Rock
5. Cal U