SALISBURY, Md. - The Salisbury University men's soccer team enters the season with high hopes to get back to the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) Championship Tournament after finishing last season with an 11-4-3 overall record and a 4-2-1 record in the CAC. However, it doesn't stop there. The Sea Gulls want to put themselves in the best position to be back in the NCAA Division III National Championship Tournament.
The maroon and gold were ranked fourth in the CAC Preseason Poll, which was released on Thursday. They sit behind the top-ranked and reigning two-time CAC champions, Mary Washington. St. Mary's (Md.) were ranked second in the poll while Christopher Newport were slated to finish third.
Alex Hargrove, who is entering his fourth year as head coach in the 2019 campaign, is hopeful that his team will finish some unfinished business from a year ago. Graduating only two seniors from last year's team, Hargrove is excited about the depth and skill that this year's team has. There are many players looking to step up and make contributions to the team this season.
The Sea Gulls will be returning the team's leading scorer from 2018 in junior Kevin Eriksen, who tallied four goals and an assist. Eriksen recorded 26 shots, 12 of which were on target to make his shots on goal percentage an impressive .462 just a season ago. Eriksen also ranked 16th in the CAC in goals.
With depth on the team, Coach is excited about the possibilities in the front line. He believes that whoever is stepping up and creating those opportunities in the attack, will be the players that will see significant time.
Coach Hargrove returns all-conference senior midfielder Ryan Spadin. Spadin received First Team All-CAC accolades last season. The senior also put up three goals and an assist, two of the three goals Spadin last season helped secure the win for the Sea Gulls which put him fourth in the conference in game-winning goals.
Juniors Beau Johnson, Trent Hofmeister and Peter Gutosky look to get in the midfield mix as well. Returning to the pitch this season is junior Dolph Hegewisch, who was an All-CAC Second Team honoree in 2016 before missing last season due to injury.
Senior Alex Eiben, who was a United Soccer Coaches All-South Atlantic Region Third Team and a Second Team All-CAC selection in 2018 returns to pitch for his last year as a Sea Gull. Eiben was also after a standout season in the back line.
Alongside Eiben, the Sea Gulls return a right outside back in junior Kyle Munson who saw significant playing time in the back line last season. Coach Hargrove is excited to start seeing who is building those connections with Eiben and Munson, as there is some competition in the other defensive spots.
Last season, the Sea Gull defense completed nine shutouts which put them fourth in the conference in shutouts and posting an 0.75 goals against average that had them ranked top 50 in all of Division III.
After graduating goalkeeper, Trevor Brookhart, the Sea Gulls are looking to fill that spot in the goal with a handful of different options. The team returns a keeper in senior Sam Roy who saw action in a handful of games last season. Coach Hargrove feels confident in all his options to fill that position.
Salisbury opens their season on Friday, August 30 with the two-day Elmer Lord Tournament. The Sea Gulls kick off the tournament with the Carnegie Mellon Tartans on Friday at 2 p.m. before battling the Gallaudet Bison on Saturday at 3 p.m.
To view the CAC preseason poll release, click here