GREENWOOD, Ind. – Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology's men's soccer team has been selected as the front runner to win the 2016 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference championship. The Engineers received nine first-place votes and 91 total points in a poll of the conference's ten head coaches. Hanover College finished behind the Fightin' Engineers with 82 points and the final first place vote.
Transylvania University placed third in the poll with 75 points. Franklin College finished fourth with 63 points and was followed by Earlham College (62 points), Manchester University (49), Anderson University (40), Mount St. Joseph University (34), Defiance College (31), and Bluffton University (23).
Rose-Hulman is coming off a 13-2-6 record in 2015. The Engineers earned a share of the HCAC title last fall with a 7-0-2 record and earned their third consecutive HCAC tournament title with a 0-0 penalty kick victory over Hanover. Rose-Hulman fell to Wisconsin-Whitewater in the first round of the NCAA tournament, ending its season.
The Engineers return five first-team All-HCAC selections from their 2015 team, including the reigning HCAC Defensive MVP and HCAC Freshman of the Year. Senior Nick Kowalkowski (New Lenox, Ill. / Lincoln-Way) and sophomore Erik Eksten (Crown Point, Ind. / Crown Point) led Rose-Hulman's defensive efforts last season while forcing 11 shutouts and a 0.67 goals against average total for last season. The defensive duo also tallied three goals each. Senior forward Ben Lyon (Westfield, Ind. / Westfield) and junior forward Austin Webb were instrumental in leading the Engineers' offense last fall. Webb led the team with eight goals and three assists, and Lyon followed with seven goals and five assists. Junior midfielder Turner Perkins (Danville, Ind. / Danville) started in all 21 games for the Engineers as a sophomore and added two goals. Senior midfielder Dieter Schultz (Dyer, Ind. / Lake Central) also returns for the Engineers after netting two goals with seven assists last fall.
Hanover College shared the league title with Rose-Hulman last season with a 7-0-2 record (12-6-3 overall). The Panthers ended the season with a 0-0 penalty kick loss to Rose-Hulman in the HCAC tournament title match. Hanover returns three first-team All-HCAC members from last season's squad, including HCAC Offensive MVP Enrico Franchini. Junior forward Enrico Franchini (Sao Paulo, Brazil) contributed 15 goals to the Panthers offense last season, six of those being game winners. Senior defender Alex McSweeney (Louisville, Ky. / St. Xavier) started in all 21 games as a junior last season for the Panthers. Senior goalkeeper Rafael Di Maio (Sao Paulo, Brazil) had a .830 save percentage last season and a 0.81 goals against average to support the Panthers defense.
Transylvania University finished fourth in the league standings last season with a 5-1-3 mark (8-4-7 overall). The Pioneers return one first-team All-HCAC selection from a year ago. Junior midfielder Riley Calhoon (Lexington, Ky. / Dunbar) started in 18 games as a sophomore and contributed six goals and five assists to the Pioneer offense. Senior forward Blake Chidester (Brentwood, Tenn. / Brentwood) also returns for Transylvania. Chidester recorded five goals and six assists during his junior season.
The 2016 men's soccer season is set to begin on September 1.
Players to Watch
|Anderson||Jacob Pokorski||Sophomore||Midfield||Monroe, Ohio / Monroe|
|Cory Baker||Sophomore||Forward||Greenwood, Ind. / Center Grove|
|Brian Stout||Junior||Midfield||Ypsilanti, Mich. / Washtenaw Christian|
|Bluffton||Matt Hardman-Zimmerman||Senior||Goalkeeper||Forest City, Pa.|
|Josh Carmack||Senior||Back||Miamisburg, Ohio / Miamisburg|
|Grant Stutzman||Senior||Forward||Sugarcreek, Ohio / Hiland|
|Blake Hershberger||Junior||Midfield||Canton, Ohio / McKinley|
|Defiance||Trevor Hester||Senior||Back||Liberty Center, Ohio / Monclova Christian|
|Nick Kleptz||Junior||Forward||Troy, Ohio / Troy|
|Mark Williams||Junior||Midfield||Plain City, Ohio / Jonathan Alder|
|Earlham||Nicholas Dey||Junior||Midfield||Newport News, Va.|
|Nicola Manni||Sophomore||Goalkeeper||Vandalia, Ohio|
|Franklin||Austin Storm||Junior||Back||Greenwood, Ind. / Center Grove|
|Antonio Gioe||Senior||Forward||Martinsville, Ind. / Mooresville|
|Mason Krupa||Junior||Midfield||Indianapolis, Ind. / Pike|
|Cameron Mattern||Junior||Midfield||Pittsboro, Ind. / Brownsburg|
|Hanover||Enrico Franchini||Senior||Forward||Sao Paulo, Brazil|
|Dominic Isadore||Junior||Forward||Cincinnati, Ohio / Cincinnati Country Day|
|Rafael Di Maio||Junior||Goalkeeper||Sao Paulo, Brazil|
|Cameron Childers||Senior||Midfield||Lafayette, Ind. / McCutcheon|
|Manchester||Chase Holford||Senior||Back||Valparaiso, Ind. / Valparaiso|
|Matthew Jordan||Senior||Midfield||Zionsville, Ind. / Zionsville|
|Tod Oram||Junior||Forward||Crown Point, Ind. / Crown Point|
|MSJ||Tyler Schumann||Senior||Back||Cincinnati, Ohio / Elder|
|Zach Kuebler||Senior||Midfield||Hilliard, Ohio / Hilliard Darby|
|Teddy Kerr||Junior||Forward||Cleves, Ohio / St. Xavier|
|Michael Huber||Junior||Midfield||New Richmond, Ohio / New Richmond|
|Rose-Hulman||Nick Kowalkowski||Senior||Back||New Lenox, Ill. / Lincoln-Way|
|Turner Perkins||Junior||Midfield||Danville, Ind. / Danville|
|Austin Webb||Junior||Forward||West Lafayette, Ind. / Harrison|
|Ben Lyon||Senior||Forward||Westfield, Ind. / Westfield|
|Transylvania||Matt Melzer||Senior||Midfield||Florence, Ky. / Boone Co.|
|Riley Calhoon||Junior||Midfield||Lexington, Ky. / Dunbar|
|Jacob Gantt||Junior||Midfield||Louisville, Ky. / Trinity|
|Blake Chidester||Senior||Forward||Brentwood, Tenn. / Brentwood|