WILMINGTON- Two years removed from a result at the NCAA Tournament, the University of North Carolina-Wilmington’s men’s soccer team is looking to get the program back to the national stage. However, the task at hand will not be easy as the Seahawks compete in one of the toughest conferences across the country along with finding a replacement for its top scorer from last season.
Coming off an 8-8-3 record and Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) quarterfinals appearance, UNCW returns 14 letter winners from one year ago. Sophomore midfielder Ben Fisher tops the list as the CAA Co-Rookie of the Year scored six goals with five assists during his freshman season.
Freshman defender Mark Lindstrom scored the game’s only goal in the 54th minute as UNCW earned a 1-0 victory over Gardner-Webb in the Seahawks’ exhibition opener this past week. The Seahawks also played to a 0-0 draw against nationally-ranked Wake Forest on Sunday. Sophomore goalkeeper Ryan Cretens and freshman goalkeeper Jacob Braham combined to make six saves in the scoreless tie.
“It was pleasing that we had another shutout as we prepare for Campbell,” Coach Aidan Heaney said. “Wake Forest is obviously a talented team, but saying that, we have room for improvement. It was really a tale of two halves and I was happy with some of the individual performances. It shows we have depth in our squad.”
Sophomore midfielder Joey Bylander earned honorable mention notice on the Preseason All-Colonial Athletic Association Men’s Soccer Team in a vote of the league’s head coaches. Bylander, a native of Stockholm, Sweden, started 18-of-19 games as a freshman. He scored the first goal of his college career at Elon.
In addition, the Seahawks were picked to finish fourth in the league’s standings. Hofstra was selected as the preseason favorite to repeat as the CAA champion, while Delaware and Elon followed in second and third places, respectively.
UNCW is looking to replace a pair of standouts in Collin Bonner and goalkeeper Sam Williams. Bonner was selected by FC Dallas in the 2016 Major League Soccer SuperDraft. Williams has been training with Wilmington Hammerheads FC.
The Seahawks, who reached the CAA quarterfinals last fall, open their 2016 regular season schedule on Friday, Aug. 26, at Campbell.