Around the conference: Projected top six men’s soccer teams

Andrew Badillo

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Courtesy: Monmouth Athletics

Courtesy: Monmouth Athletics

As teams around the MAAC start to wrap-up non-conference play, they all look to hit mid season form as MAAC play has officially begun. Tuesday featured three MAAC conference matchups; Quinnipiac hosted Niagara as the Bobcats clipped the Purple Eagles 2-0, Monmouth took on Canisius as the Hawks defeated the Golden Griffins 1-0 and Iona battled with Siena as the Gaels beat the Saints 1-0. The top half of the conference looks to be very strong with several teams capable of a deep MAAC tournament run.  Let’s take a look at how the first six teams are looking as conference play begins:

Monmouth Hawks (5-2-1, 1-0-0 MAAC) – Picked to finish first in the Preseason Coaches Poll.

Monmouth’s non-conference performance this season was very impressive as they beat Rutgers (65 in RPI) 3-0 and Holy Cross (98 in RPI) 2-1. The Hawks enter MAAC play in great shape as they look to avenge their loss to Quinnipiac in last years MAAC Championship game.

Quinnipiac Bobcats (4-4-1, 1-0-0 MAAC) – Picked to finish second in the Preseason Coaches Poll.

Like many of the other squads in the MAAC the Bobcats boasted an impressive non-conference line-up. Their season opening 2-0 loss against Northwestern (28 in RPI) highlights Quinnipiac’s out of conference slate. A quality 3-1 win against Providence (40 in RPI) is also worth noting. The Bobcats seem to have hit their stride heading into conference play as they are currently on a three game winning streak.

Iona Gaels (4-3-2, 1-0-0, MAAC) – Picked to finish third in the Preseason Coaches Poll.

The Gaels played seven out of their eight non-conference games on the road. Iona made it out of non-conference play with a record of 3-3-2, which is solid considering that they tied a quality team in Boston College (93 in RPI) and lost a close game, 1-0 to Boston University (82 in RPI). In their last four games the Gaels are 3-0-1 including their first conference win over Siena on Tuesday. After a rough beginning to their season, Iona seems to be hitting their stride coming into conference play.

Fairfield Stags (3-2-2, 0-0-0 MAAC) – Picked to finish fourth in the Preseason Coaches Poll.

It has been an up and down season so far for the Fairfield Stags as they have yet to go on a winning streak. The Stags concluded their non-conference schedule Sunday as they went on to tie the Brown Bears, 0-0. Fairfield starts off MAAC play with three winnable games as they will travel to face Rider and Saint Peters and will play host to Marist. All three of these teams were picked to finish in the bottom half of the conference in the Preseason Coaches Poll. For a team that has been inconsistent such as the Stags, these three games against weaker opponents gives them a great opportunity to string together some wins.

Manhattan Jaspers (1-4-1, 0-0-0 MAAC) – Picked to finish fifth in the Preseason Coaches Poll.

The Manhattan Jaspers have struggled to score this year. Through six games, the Jaspers have scored three goals. The MAAC is a league that features many strong goaltenders such as Quinnipiac’s Borja Angoitia, Iona’s Julian Petrello and Siena’s Josh Weiss. Manhattan will need to sort out their scoring issues fast as they will have a hard time scoring against these goaltenders if their problems persist.

Siena Saints (5-5-0, 0-1-0 MAAC) – Picked to finish sixth in the Preseason Coaches Poll.

It was an auspicious start to the 2014 season for the Siena Saints as they started 4-0. One of those wins was a 1-0 victory against the then 23 nationally ranked Boston University Terriers. The Saints have dropped their last four games, including a 1-0 loss against Iona in their first MAAC game of the year. Siena will look to get back on track in their next game Saturday, Oct. 4 against a beatable opponent in Saint Peters.

Quinnipiac and Monmouth are still the front runners to finish atop the conference standings but these other four teams have an excellent opportunity to play spoiler this season.