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SMALL COLLEGES: Previewing the men's favorites
August 28th, 2008 1:45PM

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Favorites Franklin Pierce (NCAA Division II) must overcome heavy losses, Middlebury (NCAA Division III) will again be led by goalie Brian Bush (623 scoreless minutes and counting), and Azusa Pacific (NAIA) must overcome the loss of Steven Lenhart, now with MLS's Columbus Crew. For a look at the top five teams in each of the three small college divisions ...

NCAA Division II
1 Franklin Pierce 17-2-4
The Ravens are No. 1 despite heavy graduation losses. Of the returnees, Pole Marek Hawrylik had the most goals -- four. The biggest loss is goalie James Thorpe, the three-time All-American.

2 Lincoln Memorial 20-4-1
Juniors Leandro Pereira and Felipe Nogueira will lead the Railsplitters, who again have a heavy Brazilian flavor. Freshman Rodrigo Brito joins six other Brazilians at Lincoln Memorial, last year's runner-up.

3 Midwestern State 18-3-2
The Southwest Soccer Conference favorite will be led by second-team All-America selection Ahmad Ihmeidan in midfield and Robert Swann on defense. The Mustangs' big loss was forward Daniel Brown (24 goals).

4 Montevallo 18-4-2
The Falcons, who reached the 2007 Division II final four, had five players selected to the All-Gulf South Conference Preseason Team, led by star Jonathan Maloney (22 goals). Also back are James Ward, Jim Witherow, Otavio Tramontina and Milan Pualic.

5 Northern Kentucky 22-2-0
NKU enjoyed a program-best 20-game winning streak, returns first-team All-American Braden Bishop. Also back are Eric Ashworth, a vital member of the "Norse Wall" defensive unit, and Steven Beattie, who netted 11 goals in his freshman campaign.


NCAA Division III
1 Middlebury 17-2-2
Goalie Brian Bush ended the 2007 season with a 623-minute scoreless streak as Middlebury won both its games at the Division III final four via shootouts. Casey Ftorek (30 goals in two seasons) leads the attack.

2 Trinity (Texas) 23-1-0
Patrick Floeck, the 2007 Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year with 19 goals, and defender Michael Robertson will lead the Tigers, who lost to Middlebury in the 2007 D3 final.

3 Loras 23-0-2
Nate DuBois led all D3 goalies with 19 shutouts in 2007, while Colombian Santiago Mejia (15 assists) heads the midfield that returns intact.

4 Messiah 21-3-0
The Commonwealth Conference favorite lost its top two scorers from a year ago in Kai Kasiguran and Patrick Lenehan, but sophomore Nick Thompson (10 goals, 3 assists) will return as its leader scorer.

5 York 21-3-1
After consecutive quarterfinal appearances in the NCAA Tournament, the Spartans look to make the final. They return a  trio of All-Americans in Jon Ports (15 goals, 16 assists), Chris Ports and Evan Scheffey.
 
NAIA
1 Azusa Pacific 20-1-1
Led by Steven Lenhart, now with MLS's Columbus Crew, the Cougars won their first NAIA title in 2007. Key returnees include goalie James Crawford and Ashkon Banihashemi, who scored the insurance goal in the 2007 final against Concordia.

2 Concordia (Calif.) 19-4-0
Former U.S. Olympian Don Ebert returns seven starters from last year's NAIA runner-up team. NAIA All-Americans Jeff Clark (15 goals, school record 13 assists) and Joel Smith will lead the Eagles.

3 Auburn Montgomery 17-5-0
Once again, the Senators will have a heavy Icelandic flavor. Kari Arsaelsson, a first-team All-American as a sophomore, is one of 12 players from Iceland. Englishman Nik Chamberlain is AUM's other returning All-American.

4 Fresno Pacific 19-3-1
The Sunbirds lost Brazilian star Pablo Campos, who gave up his last year of eligibility to sign with Swedish club GAIS. They will count on the experience of goalie Brandon Cave until the young frontline matures.

5 Simon Fraser 17-2-1
Seniors Justin Carvery (9 goals, 11 assists) and Thomas Lindley (0.38 GAA) were third-team NAIA All-Americans in 2007. The arrival of UNLV transfer Ben Pisch adds significant depth to the Clan.



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