Oneonta State will begin the men’s soccer season as the 24th-ranked Division III team in the country, according to a preseason poll conducted by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.
Head coach Iain Byrne will return for his 10th season with the Red Dragons, who reached the second round of the NCAA D-III Tournament last fall and finished 14-5-2.
O-State has qualified for the last two NCAA tournaments by winning consecutive SUNY Athletic Conference Tournament titles under Byrne, who led the Red Dragons to the national semifinals in 2011.
Oneonta will return nine players who started at least eight games last season, including 2012 SUNYAC Rookie of the Year Sean Vinberg.
The Red Dragons open their season Aug. 31 at Ithaca. Their schedule also features a Sept. 6 home game against defending national champion and preseason No. 1 Messiah as the two teams will meet in the opening game of the annual Mayor’s Cup Tournament.
O-State will face a pair of 2012 NCAA qualifiers in Vassar and Rensselaer this season as well. Its SUNYAC schedule starts Sept. 27 at Cortland State.
The SUNYAC Tournament will begin Nov. 2 with first-round games at the homes of the higher seeds.
The highest remaining seed will host the SUNYAC Tournament semifinals and championship on Nov. 6 and Nov. 9, respectively.
O-State grad joins Maritime
Oneonta State graduate Sean Engel has been named assistant sports information director at SUNY Maritime, the college announced last week.
Engel held the same position at Manhattanville for the past two years while completing his master’s in sports business management.
Before that, Bay Shore native Engel spent one year as an athletics assistant at Division II C.W. Post. He also assisted the Red Dragons’ sports programs in 2010, when he graduated from O-State magna cum laude with a degree in mass communications.