Somerset, NJ—Sacred Heart, which has won three Northeast Conference titles in the past five years, was picked by the league’s head coaches to win another in 2013. The Pioneers earned six place
2013 Northeast Conference
Preseason Coaches’ Poll
Sacred Heart (6)
LIU Brooklyn (1)
Saint Francis U
Mount St. Mary’s (1)
St. Francis Brooklyn
First Place Votes in Parentheses ()
Central Connecticut had two first place votes, followed by LIU Brooklyn. Robert Morris and Saint Francis U round out the top-five, followed by Mount St. Mary’s, Fairleigh Dickinson, Monmouth, Bryant, Wagner and St. Francis Brooklyn.
The Pioneers graduated NEC individual title winner Leo Garcia, but boast a promising squad led by senior and 2012 NEC Golfer of the Year Josh Salah (Gloucester MA/Gloucester). Salah posted five top-10 finishes in 2012 and averaged 73.6 through 24 rounds. He also paced Sacred Heart at four of five tournaments this fall. Newcomer Peter Ballo (Stamford, CT) has already made an immediate impact, placing third at the CCSU Fall Invitational and second at the Hartford Hawks Invitational.
Central Connecticut vies for its first championship win since 2005. Monte Mullen (Manchester, CT/Farmington) and Dan Fanion (Westfield, MA/Westfield) held the best averages for the Blue Devils in the fall of 74.2 and 74.3, respectively. Fanion, a 2012 All-NEC Second Team honoree, was CCSU’s top finisher at the 2012 NEC Tournament last season, after tying for ninth, while Mullen won his home invitational this past fall.
LIU Brooklyn returns a strong squad of international student-athletes, including Josh Waters (London, England/St. Dunstan’s), Jamie Young (Barrie, Ontario/Eastview Secondary) and 2012 NEC Rookie of the Year, Obe Ayton (Liphook, England/Godalming Col.). Waters and Young both placed in the top-10 at least year’s NEC Tournament while Ayton was the top performer for the Blackbirds in several fall tournaments and earned medalist honors at the Barnabas Health Intercollegiate.
Picked fourth, the Robert Morris Colonials are coming off a fifth place finish at last year’s conference championship and a win at their home tournament. Brock Pompeani (Aliquippa, PA/Hopewell) tied for seventh at the NEC tournament, took second at the Colonial Invitational in October and averaged 75.8 through the fall.
Saint Francis won the team title at the MAC Invitational and PSU Altoona Invitational this fall. James Ferguson (Altoona, PA/Tyrone), Vincent Adams (Boisbriand, Quebec/John Abbot College) and Chris Stricek (Binghamton, NY/Windsor) all tied for first at the MAC Invitational. Stricek, a freshman, also won the individual title outright at the PSU Invitational.
Mount St. Mary’s loses three top-10 finishers to graduation, but return NEC All-Conference Second Team selection Kevin Ellison (Harrisburg, PA/Bishop McDevitt), who helped the Mount to its first NEC Championship last season. Ellison tied for third. His teammate, Ryan Triller (Street, MD/North Harford) posted the best average of 74.2 through 12 rounds in the fall and recorded two finishes in the top five.
Sophomore Tom Barnes (Oradell, NJ/River Dell) and senior Eduardo Escobar (Manizales, Colombia/San Luis Gonzaga) tied for 12th at last year’s NEC tournament as the Fairleigh Dickinson tied for second place in the team standings. During the fall, the Knights posted three top-five team finishes.
All-NEC First Team Selection and NEC Tournament runner-up Ian Thimble (Hyde Park, MA/Boston College HS) stands at the forefront for Monmouth. Thimble held the top average on the squad of 75.1 in 22 rounds last season. In the fall, the senior finished in the top-five in three events while also posting a team-best average of 74.2.
Bryant will compete as a team in the NEC Tournament for this first time this season. Freshman Kyle Buschmann (East Haddam, CT/Xavier) led the team with a 74.9 average through the fall and placed in the top-10 three times, while junior Zach Garbacik (South Hadley, MA/South Hadley) tied for 12th at last year’s NEC Tournament to earn top finish for the Bulldogs.
Wagner and St. Francis Brooklyn will try to move up the ladder in 2013. Three freshmen, Connor McKiernan (Willoughby Hills, OH/Saint Ignatius), Matt Kraus (Livingston, NJ/Montclair Kimberley Academy) and Duncan DeFino (Lyndhurst, OH/Gilmour Academy), each earned a top-finish for the Seahawks at tournaments this fall. Steven Stuto (Staten Island, NY/Michael J. Petrides) is the top returner for the Terriers. The senior had a team best average of 81.7 and the best finish at three of four fall tournaments.
About The Northeast Conference
Now in its 32nd year, the Northeast Conference is an NCAA Division I collegiate athletic association consisting of 12 institutions of higher learning located throughout six states. Media coverage of the NEC extends to four of the largest markets in the United States - New York (#1), Pittsburgh (#23), Baltimore (#27), and Hartford/New Haven (#30). Founded in 1981 as the basketball-only ECAC Metro Conference, the NEC has grown to sponsor 23 championship sports for men and women and now enjoys automatic or play-in access to 14 different NCAA Championships. NEC member institutions include Bryant, Central Connecticut State, Fairleigh Dickinson, LIU Brooklyn, Monmouth, Mount St. Mary’s, Quinnipiac, Robert Morris, Sacred Heart, St. Francis Brooklyn, Saint Francis U and Wagner. For more information on the NEC, visit the league’s official website (www.northeastconference.org) and digital network (www.necfrontrow.com), or follow the league on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube (@NECsports).