The scenery isn’t the only thing that’s great in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. The battle to see who will stand at the summit in this competitive men’s soccer conference should be among the best in Division II in 2015, with three teams starting the season in the BennettRank Top 25.
The favorite to win the RMAC is BR-13 Colorado Mesa, which is coming off a run to last year’s Final Four, where the Mavericks lost in the national semifinal game to Charleston. But right there with the Mavericks in the hunt for the RMAC crown may be BR-15 Colorado Mines. And UC Colorado Springs (BR-22) and Regis (BR-36) also figure to have an outside chance to win the league as well.
For Colorado Mesa, redshirt junior Roy Abergil, who led last year’s squad with 12 goals, returns, as does senior playmaker Nestor Escobar, who was the team’s assist leader last season and All-RMAC senior Blake Carlson. Second year head coach Todd Padgett will miss last year’s rock-solid star goalkeeper Micah Conrads, however. Still, the Mavericks are high in every preseason poll, and will be targeted for special effort by every other team in the conference after winning the regular season crown last year with a 13-1 in-league record.
Colorado School of Mines finished second in the conference last season with a 9-5 league mark, in what many considered to be an overachieving season for an Orediggers squad that was thought to be set for a real rebuilding year. Mines came into 2014 following the departure of the program’s all-time record holder for points, Tesho Akindele, who became the first ever DII player to be taken in the MLS Super Draft when FC Dallas chose him sixth in 2014. But the Orediggers managed to put together a decent 2014 and took home the RMAC tournament trophy after beating Colorado Mesa on penalties in the final.
While perhaps not in the same class as Mesa and Mines, both UC Colorado Springs and Regis will field strong squads that could provide an upset. But both will be adjusting to the loss of star players. UCCS said goodbye to All-American James Roberts and Regis will be facing life without one of its all-time best, RMAC Player of the Year Martin Maybin,
Still, there’s more competition among the top four or five in this conference than many others, and the top teams won’t get too many auto-pilot games.
“The RMAC is a great soccer conference,” Mines head coach Frank Kohlenstein said in a statement announcing the school’s spring signings. “If you don’t bring it every day you will not succeed.”
The first big match between two of the league’s top teams comes Sept. 8 when Regis hosts Colorado Mines. Mesa and Mines don’t square off until mid-season when they play at the School of Mines in Golden, Colo. on Oct. 11.