August 15, 2012
Monmouth men picked to win NEC again
WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. – The Monmouth University men was selected to win their eighth consecutive Northeast Conference tournament, according to the pre-season coaches poll, the league office announced on Wednesday.
The seven-time defending regular season champions and three-time defending league tournament champions received seven of a possible 10 first-place votes.
Following the Hawks in the poll was Garden State foe Fairleigh Dickinson, Monmouth’s opponent in the 2011 NEC tournament championship game, with two first-place votes. Saint Francis (Pa.) and Sacred Heart were picked third and fourth, respectively, with one first-place vote each. St. Francis (N.Y.) and Mount St. Mary’s were picked fifth and sixth, respectively while Central Connecticut and Quinnipiac were slotted seventh and eighth, respectively. LIU Brooklyn, Robert Morris and Bryant rounded out the poll.
The Hawks have dominated the Northeast Conference over the past seven seasons under coach Robert McCourt, posting a 47-7-12 record (.803 winning percentage) in regular-season contests against league foes. The Hawks return six starters from last year’s team, including MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List selection and three-time All-NEC first team honoree Ryan Clark (Freehold, N.J.) in the midfield.
Senior goalkeeper Alex Blackburn (Natick, Mass.) also returns after posting the 10th-best goals-against average (0.61) in the nation. Clark, Blackburn and Joseph Schmid (Kingston, Pa.), who had three goals and five assists last season, will serve as the Hawks’ captains in 2012.
The Hawks also brought in arguably their most talented recruiting class in McCourt’s time at the helm. Defenders Emmanuel Senyah Agyemang (Kumasi, Ghana), David Camacho (Heredia, Costa Rica) and Dan Pizzimenti (Manalapan, N.J.), midfielders Ryan McNamara (West Nyack, N.Y.), Corey Atanda (Belle Mead, N.J.), Zach Zurita (Stratford, Conn.), Tomas Penfold (Scarsdale, N.Y.), Francois “Paco” Navarro (Paris, France) and forwards Edney Derrick (Kumasi, Ghana) and Jared Dublin (Westwood, N.J.) have restocked Monmouth with an abundance of talent heading into the season.
The Hawks get one final tune-up in a scrimmage at Bucknell on Saturday, before opening the regular season at Towson on Friday, Aug. 24.