The James Madison men's soccer team has been picked by Colonial Athletic Association coaches to finish second in the CAA standings in 2012.
JMU has five starters returning from last year’s 13-5-2 team that finished first in CAA regular-season play and advanced to the final 16 of the NCAA Tournament. Senior midfielder Paul Wyatt (6g, 3a), a second-team All-America and first-team All-CAA honoree, is back to lead the Dukes along with third-team All-CAA midfielder Christian McLaughlin (1g, 8a) and senior defender Dale Robins-Bailey (2g, 3a).
Old Dominion, which returns 10 starters from last year’s 12-6-2 team that advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, is favored to capture the CAA title in 2012.
The Monarchs claimed the top spot in the poll after receiving nine first-place votes and 99 total points. JMU picked up one first-place tally and was second in the voting with 81 points, while defending CAA champion Delaware was third with 72 points and William and Mary was fourth with 69 points. Northeastern placed fifth with 61 points, George Mason, which also received a first-place vote, was sixth with 58 points and Georgia State was close behind with 57 points. Hofstra and UNCW tied for eighth with 34 points, followed by Drexel and Towson.
ODU is coming off its eighth NCAA Tournament appearance in the past decade in 2011. The Monarchs, who ranked second nationally in scoring (2.4 goals per game) last year, welcome back four all-conference honorees. Senior forward Yannick Smith (league-high 16g, 4a) earned third-team All-America accolades and made the All-CAA first team along with junior midfielder Gideon Asante (7g, 9a). Back from the All-CAA second team are junior forward Tim Hopkinson (10g, 8a) and senior goalkeeper Victor Francoz (1.38 GAA, 86 svs., 6 ShO).
Delaware won its first CAA title last season and then knocked off perennial power Virginia in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Topping the list of 10 lettermen who return from that 13-6-4 squad is junior forward Roberto Gimenez (10g, 7a), who 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.
William & Mary, which won the CAA championship in 2010, has eight starters returning from last season’s 10-9 team. Junior defender Will Smith was a second-team All-CAA selection a year ago, while midfielder Marcus Luster and defender Michael Teiman were members of the CAA All-Rookie team.
Traditionally regarded as one of the top men’s soccer conferences in the nation, the CAA sent four teams to the NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship in 2011 and has had at least one team advance to the round of 16 of the NCAA’s in seven of the last 10 years.
2012 CAA PRESEASON COACHES POLL
1. Old Dominion (9 first-place votes), 99
2. James Madison (1 first-place vote), 81
3. Delaware, 72
4. William and Mary, 69
5. Northeastern, 61
6. George Mason (1 first-place vote), 58
7. Georgia State, 57
8. Hofstra, 34
10. Drexel, 24
11. Towson, 16
(Teams received 10 points for a first-place vote, 9 for second, etc. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team.)