The University of Scranton men's soccer team won back-to-back Landmark Conference championships in 2015 and 2016, but the Royals narrowly missed out on a playoff berth last fall despite posting their sixth straight year with a winning record. Scranton will look to rebound with a strong campaign this season, the Royals' 50th year of men's soccer competition.
Scranton was selected fourth in this year's Landmark Conference preseason poll which was released on Thursday morning. The Royals, who went 10-7 (3-4 Landmark) last season, earned 34 points and collected on first place vote in the balloting of the league's eight head coaches.
Defending conference champion Drew was tabbed as the preseason favorite with 70 points and seven first place votes, Elizabethtown came in second with 52 points, and Catholic was third with 48 points.
Susquehanna was tabbed fifth with 29 points while Moravian (17 points), Goucher (13 points), and Juniata (9 points) rounded out the poll.
Head coach Matt Pivirotto, who is entering his 20th season as Scranton's head coach, welcomes back 19 players from last year's squad while 10 newcomers will look to make an immediate impact for the Royals.
Senior Michael Donnelly (Mahopac, N.Y./John F. Kennedy) returns after earning Second Team All-Landmark Conference honors last fall. Donnelly started all 17 games and scored two goals as a defender during his junior year.
Junior Jon Roberts (Whitehouse Station, N.J./Immaculata-Somerville) is the top returning scorers for the Royals this season after totaling eight points on two goals and a team-leading four assists from his spot in the midfield.
The Royals will be looking to increase their offensive output after averaging just under a goal and a half scored per game last season, but the team was solid defensively. Scranton will look to continue that trend after posting a 1.33 goals against average.
Junior goalkeeper Blake Hammert (Archbald, Pa./Scranton Prep) saw the bulk of the playing time in goal last season and had a 1.59 goals against average while making 41 saves for a .661 save percentage.
Scranton kicks of the 2018 campaign with a pair of home games this coming weekend. The Royals will play the first-ever intercollegiate game on Weiss Field on Friday night against Arcadia at 7 p.m. before hosting Alvernia on Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m.
Scranton opens Landmark Conference action on Saturday, September 22 in Washington, D.C. against Catholic.
To view the full 2018 University of Scranton men's soccer schedule, click here.