Ushering in a new era for the program after arguably its most successful stretch in program history in Division II, the Merrimack College men’s soccer program made its first-ever appearance in the Northeast Conference (NEC) preseason poll on Wednesday. The Warriors were selected to finish 10th in the conference.
Three teams split the 10 first-place votes available, with Saint Francis University leading the pack. The Red Flash took home five tallies for the top spot as they search for their first-ever NEC title. St. Francis Brooklyn finished right behind them in second, collecting three votes for first place.
Fairleigh Dickson, Bryant and Long Island University rounded out spots No. 3-5 in the poll. The Sharks earned the final two first-place votes in their attempt to repeat as NEC champions. Robert Morris, Mount St. Mary’s, Sacred Heart and Central Connecticut completed the bottom half of the 10-team poll, finished ahead of the Warriors.
Head coach Tony Martone embarks on his 38th season at Merrimack and is knocking on the door of a personal milestone. The boss of the Warriors needs eight victories to reach 400 in his esteemed career; Martone ended his DII tenure ranking 16th in career victories (392). Since 2012, Merrimack has made five NCAA Tournaments and won a regular season conference championship in 2012 followed by a Northeast-10 Conference tournament crown in 2017. The Warriors have won at least 13 games in seven straight seasons.
Merrimack returns four of its five leading scorers for last season, including all-region defender in senior Mirko Nufi. Senior Aasmund Joedahl returns in a leadership for the Warriors after ranking fifth on the team in scoring one year ago (2-2—6). Merrimack opens its first-ever DI campaign on Monday, Sept. 2, at 5 p.m. against Northeastern. The Warriors start the year on a four-game road swing before hosting local rival UMass Lowell on Tuesday, Sept. 17, at 7 p.m. at Martone-Mejail Field.