PRESEASON CONFERENCE RANKINGS
|22||UC Colorado Springs|
Colorado Mesa Mavericks
LOCATION: Grand Junction, Co.
COACH: Todd Padgett is going into his second season as the head coach. He led the Mavericks to their first RMAC title in school history last season.
2014 RECORD: 18-4-1 overall; 13-1 RMAC
2014 POSTSEASON: Lost 2-0 to eventual national runner-up Charleston in the Final Four.
THE CORNERSTONE: R-Jr. F Roy Abergil (12 goals, 4 assists — only player to score 10 or more goals last season).
THE SUPPORTING CAST: Sr. M Nestor Escobar (2 goals, 8 assists); Sr. F Charlie Dukes (3 goals, 2 assists); Sr. M Kevin Escobar (3 goals, 1 assist); Jr. GK Brandyn Bumpas (27 saves).
THE SKINNY?: The Mavericks’ top two scorers are back, with Roy Abergil coming off a season where he scored 12 goals en route to earning All-American honors. Mesa lost several role players, however, and will need to fill those voids to duplicate the success it enjoyed a season ago. The defense will be anchored by a goalie who recorded five shutouts in 2014.
Outlook: Mesa nearly played for the national championship last season despite being in the NCAA tourney for the first time. While getting back to that level is never easy, the Mavericks have enough talent to make another run at the crown.
Colorado Mines Orediggers
LOCATION: Golden, Co.
COACH: Frank Kohlenstein is headed into his 18th season at Mines. He is the all-time winningest coach at the school, racking up 203 wins.
2014 RECORD: 12-7-1 overall; 9-5 RMAC
THE CORNERSTONE: So. M Nikolaus Grotz (9 goals, 8 assists– led the team in points last season).
THE SUPPORTING CAST: Sr. M Richard Garvey (6 goals, 5 assists)Sr. M Joe Haines (6 goals, 3 assists); Sr. D Ryan Leach (5 goals, 2 assists); Jr. GK Collin Hall (59 saves).
THE SKINNY?: Plenty of talent is back on the offensive end for a team that won its third conference tournament title since 2010. The Orediggers will be led by Grotz, one of the top scoring threats in the RMAC, and also have several others capable of stepping up on any given night. They have also added a strong recruiting class featuring 14 athletes.
Outlook: The Orediggers lost all seven games by one goal, including three in overtime. If they can turn those close calls into victories, they will be in a great position to win a league title.
LOCATION: Denver, Co.
COACH: Tony McCall begins his seventh season at the helm of the Rangers. He guided his team to its sixth consecutive conference tournament last year.
2014 RECORD: 13-6 overall; 9-5 RMAC
THE CORNERSTONE: So. F Sawyer Lincoln (4 goals, 4 assists — finished third on the team in points).
THE SUPPORTING CAST: Sr. M Jacob Martinez (3 goals, 3 assists); Sr. F Ryan Urwiller (3 goals, 3 assists); Jr. D Louis Barrow (2 goals, 2 assists); Sr. M Adam Tormoehlen (2 assists); So. M Taylor Wiebke (1 goal, 1 assist); Sr. GK Christian Nicolosi (38 saves).
THE SKINNY?: Regis won’t be as nearly dangerous offensively after losing Martin Maybin to graduation. Maybin scored 16 goals a year ago. But the Rangers should still be balanced and be able to do enough offensively to be in every game. Having experience at the goalie spot with the return of Nicolosi will be huge as well.
Outlook: The Rangers are going to be in the mix for a conference championship and perhaps if they catch a few breaks along the way, have a shot at earning a trip to the NCAA tourney for the first time since 2013 when it reached the Elite Eight.
Fort Lewis Skyhawks
LOCATION: Durango, Co.
COACH: Olge Kennedy enters his seventh season with the Skyhawks. Under his guidance, Fort Lewis has won two national championships, including one in his first season in 2009.
2014 RECORD: 11-8 overall; 9-5 RMAC
THE CORNERSTONE: Sr. M Yannis Becker (12 goals, 7 assists — named an All-American in 2014).
THE SUPPORTING CAST: Jr. F Luke Lawrence (9 goals, 2 assists); Jr. M Tamino Kroeger (5 goals, 3 assists); Sr. M Zac Lawrence (1 goal, 4 assists); Jr. D Tyler Miller (1 goal, 1 assist); Sr. F Austin Derksen (3 assists); Sr. GK Ryan Schaul (55 saves).
THE SKINNY?: Fort Lewis is accustomed to being one of the best teams in the conference and country and this could be the year it returns to national prominence. Experience won’t be a problem for the Skyhawks, especially with one of the nation’s best players leading the way on offense. A strong recruiting class featuring seven players has also been added to the roster.
Outlook: The Skyhawks were one of the better teams in the conference last season and should contend for a title this year. Even if they don’t win a crown in the regular season, they could emerge with one in the RMAC tournament.
Colorado Springs Mountain Lions
LOCATION: Colorado Springs, Co.
COACH: Johnnie Keen enters his fourth season as the head coach. Keen is a former youth soccer coach in South Carolina.
2014 RECORD: 11-8-2 overall; 8-6 RMAC
THE CORNERSTONE: So. F Josh Berntsson (4 goals, 2 assists — ranked third in goals scored last season).
THE SUPPORTING CAST: Jr. M J.R. Calhoun (3 goals, 2 assists); So. D Conor Langenbahn (3 goals, 2 assists); Sr. M Sebastian Hertzberg (3 goals, 1 assist); So. F Jake McAllister (3 goals, 1 assist); Jr. M Cort Searls (2 goals, 2 assists); Sr. D Luke Chapman (1 goal, 1 assist); Sr. M Chris Welch (2 assists); So. GK David Meyer (59 saves).
THE SKINNY?: The Mountain Lions don’t have that one go-to scorer on the roster, but they will have a team that features one of the more balanced attacks in the conference. Six of the returning players scored at least two goals. Colorado Springs also returns its best goalie in Meyer, who recorded five shutouts last year. The recruiting class includes local player Aaron Haefner, a defender who helped his team win a state title in Colorado.
Outlook: Colorado Springs probably is poised to to end the year as one of the best teams in the conference. Although an RMAC crown might be out of reach, no one can sleep on the Mountain Lions considering the talent they have coming back.
Metro State Roadrunners
LOCATION: Denver, Co.
COACH: Jeremy Tittle was named the interim head coach in July. He has been an assistant with the Roadrunners for the past six seasons.
2014 RECORD: 10-8 overall; 7-7 RMAC
THE CORNERSTONE: Jr. F Josh Belfrage (9 goals, 4 assists — tied for the team-lead in points).
THE SUPPORTING CAST: Sr. F Danny Arrubla (9 goals, 4 assists); Jr. M Dustin Berg (5 goals, 2 assists); Jr. F Jeff Gillis (3 goals, 3 assists); Jr. F Jack Mayfield (2 goals, 2 assists); Jr. D Nolan Barth (3 assists); Jr. GK James Tanner (45 saves).
THE SKINNY?: The top five goal scorers are all back and Metro State will be one of the best offensive teams in the conference. Its goal total of 33 a year ago will rise significantly this season. The Roadrunners also have their primary goalie back in Tanner, who won seven games last season and came through with one shutout.
Outlook: None of the starters were seniors a year ago. With a year of experience under their belts, the Roadrunners will come through with a winning record in league play and maybe even emerge as a surprise contender for the league championship.
Colorado State Pueblo ThunderWolves
LOCATION: Pueblo, Co.
COACH: Roy Stanley has been at the helm of Pueblo for 22 years. He coached both the men’s and women’s teams until 2007.
2014 RECORD: 7-11 overall; 6-8 RMAC
THE CORNERSTONE: So. F Matt Marchena (9 goals, 2 assists — top goal scorer for Pueblo last season).
THE SUPPORTING CAST: Sr. Jack Gonzales M/D (4 goals, 1 assist); Sr. D Jack Glawe (1 goal, 3 assists); So. D. Zach Davis (3 goals); So. F Mountain Mitchell (2 goals, 1 assist); So. D Lucas Rodriguez (2 assists); Sr. GK Sam Haseltine (111 saves).
THE SKINNY?: With their top goal scorer back starting goalie returning, the ThunderWolves have an opportunity to take a big step forward. Finding role players to step up and contribute on a consistent basis will be a key to success.
Outlook: Pueblo closed the year with three consecutive wins and will try to carry that momentum into this season. It will be tough to compete for a spot in the conference tourney this season, the ThunderWolves have an opportunity to at least finish with a winning record.
Colorado Christian Cougars
LOCATION: Lakewood, Co.
COACH: Gary Evans is in his fifth season as the head coach of the Cougars. Evans is actually in his second stint at the school. He also coached at Colorado Christian from 1996 until 2003.
2014 RECORD: 5-14 overall; 2-12 RMAC
THE CORNERSTONE: Jr. GK Brandon Eide (108 saves — won five games last year as the starting goalie).
THE SUPPORTING CAST: Sr. M/D Calvin Beck (3 assists); Sr. F Adam Hern (1 goal)
THE SKINNY?: Scoring will prove to be a challenge for a team that doesn’t have a player on its roster who scored more than a goal last season. The best returning player is goalie Brandon Eide. He will have to be at his best throughout the season if Colorado Christian is going to improve.
Outlook: The Cougars lack experience and depth. They could win a few more games than they did a season ago, but avoiding a last-place finish in the conference will be difficult.
Adams State Grizzlies
LOCATION: Alamosa, Co.
COACH: Tim Busen heads into his fifth season as the head coach of the Grizzlies. Busen has coached three All-RMAC selections in his time at the helm of the program.
2014 RECORD: 1-16 overall; 0-14 RMAC
THE CORNERSTONE: Jr. F Ethan Jackson (3 goals, 2 assists — led the team in goals and points last season).
THE SUPPORTING CAST: So. M Carlos Castro (1 goal, 2 assists); So. M Mario Castro (1 goal, 1 assist); Sr. M/D Aaron Fox (1 goal); Sr. F J.J. Dennis (1 goal); So. GK Austin Baumeister (71 saves).
THE SKINNY?: The Grizzlies didn’t score a lot of goals last season but they do have most of their top offensive players back. With a year of experience under their belts, those players should take their games to another level. This is still a young team, especially with 14 freshmen on the roster. Only two of the key returning players are seniors.
Outlook: Adams State probably won’t go winless again in conference play and should add a few more wins to its overall record as well.