St. Francis College just missed out on the Northeast Conference tournament last season, despite an 11-4-3 overall and 4-3-2 in the league. The Terriers are ready for a breakout season, at least that’s the opinion of the NEC coaches, who picked St. Francis to finish fourth in the conference with two voting for the Terriers to claim the regular-season title.
Four-time defending NEC champion Monmouth was picked to capture the regular season crown, while Fairleigh Dickinson was selected second and Quinnipiac was picked to finish third.
Returning for coach Tom Giovatto is Swedish forward John Sallhag, the 2007 NEC Rookie of the Year who had seven goals and 20 points last year. Like Sallhag, who is a two-time all-conference selection, senior midfielder Semso Nikocevic returns and will look to be the Terriers’ playmaker after Alex Silaco, who led the league with seven assists last year.
Javier Gonzalez, who trained with the Venezuelan national team during the summer, is back, as is goalkeeper Chris Antonio, the former Archbishop Molloy standout who ranked second in the NEC with a 0.78 goals against average and his seven clean sheets was tied for third in the league.
After an 8-9-1 season, 3-5-1 in the NEC, Long Island University was picked to finish eighth, along with St. Francis (Pa.). While second team All-NEC forward and leading scorer Jukka Lehto is gone, the Blackbirds have a sophomore-laden roster, led by forward Steve Jakubowski, who had a team-high six goals last season.
Sophomore playmaker Rommel Forde and junior midfielder/defender Craig Stant are back after both recording five assists apiece last year. Goalkeeper Adam Janssen had a 1.52 goals against average and had four shutouts as a rookie.
St. Francis College takes on Virginia Commonwealth in the Costal Carolina/Adidas Invitational on Sept. 4, while LIU opens their regular season Sept. 1 at Colgate.
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