Southern New Hampshire starts the season ranked BR-5 and the favorite to win a fourth straight conference title in DII’s highly competitive Northeast-10 Conference.
The Penmen also start the season with a new man in charge, with Josh Taylor having been handed the reins as head coach after seven seasons as an assistant with the program under Marc Hubbard.
But while Southern New Hampshire has been one of DII’s most consistently strong programs over the last half decade, and is just a season removed from its 2013 national championship, the Penmen graduated several key players and start the 2015 season with huge question marks on the pitch.
In addition to winning the national title in 2013, SNHU made the NCAA tournament quarterfinals in 2009, 2011 and 2012 and has won the last three NE-10 tournaments and the regular season title the last two seasons. And Taylor, who played at New England College, inherits a team coming off a 17-1-2 season in which the Penmen led the nation in scoring with 3.9 goals per game. The team lost to LIU Post on penalty kicks in the NCAA tournament second round last year.
But Taylor has some work to do, including figuring out how to replace some key components in a defense that allowed just 0.67 goals a game, best in the Northeast-10. Southern New Hampshire also no longer has the services of last year’s leading scorer, the Haitian sensation, Kenny Doublette.
Gone from defense are Northeast-10 Player of the Year Callum Williams, the anchor of last year’s stingy backline, and Keegan Campbell, the team’s captain and on-field leader last year, who will be on the sidelines this year as an assistant coach.
Also gone is last year’s team MVP, Yannick Kabala, who was a midfielder but a key contributor in stopping opponents’ attacks.
And behind that backline there’s a hole to fill as well, with goalkeeper Dom DiMaggio having graduated. DiMaggio gave up just 12 goals in 20 games for a 0.647 GAA that put him in the top 10 among DII goalies nationwide last year. DiMaggio was a one of the heroes of Southern New Hampshire’s run to the 2013 national title, coming up with six big saves in the second half of the semifinal that year against Rockhurst.
On offense, the Penmen will be looking to make up for the 15 goals scored last year by Doublette , who also added five assists. Doublette, who moved to the United States from Haiti at age 16, also was a big factor in the national championship run.
The good news for the Penmen is the return of Spaniard Jose Seoane, who had 10 goals last season, but only played 10 games, missing the second half of the season because of injury. If he can score a goal a game for a whole season, it would go a long way to helping the Penmen deal with not having Doublette.
Also returning is senior Sebastian Stezewski, who had 27 total points last year on 10 goals and seven assists and Jonathan Lupinelli and Sofiane Tergou, who each had nine assists last season.
Hubbard, meanwhile, returns to the University of New Hampshire as the Wildcats ‘ head coach. Hubbard was an assistant at the DI school from 2003-2007. During his time at Southern New Hampshire, Hubbard compiled a 117-20-16 record, and his .817 winning percentage was best among active DII head coaches.
Under new coach Taylor, Southern New Hampshire will start the season Sept. 6 at home against BR-158 Chestnut Hill.