Reigning Northeast Conference champions St. Francis College Brooklyn men have been voted the league’s preseason favorite with eight first-place votes, the league announced Wednesday.

It marked the first time since 2018 that the Terriers were picked to win the conference in the NEC preseason poll.

Behind St. Francis was Long Island University in second-place with two first-place votes. In third-place was Saint Francis University (Pa.), and tied for fourth-place was Merrimack and Fairleigh Dickinson University. In sixth-place was Bryant, followed by Central Connecticut State University, and Mount St. Mary’s in seventh and eighth-place, respectively. Sacred Heart University and conference newcomer Howard University rounded out the final two spots.

“We appreciate being recognized as the preseason poll favorite by our peers throughout the conference,” head coach Tom Giovatto said. “We are coming off a historic spring season and we look to build on that success this Fall. We have a lot of work to do in the coming weeks, but we are looking forward to another season kicking off shortly.”

St. Francis is coming off a season in which it captured its NEC record ninth men’s soccer championship. The Terriers went on to defeat the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the first round of the NCAA College Cup. The win marked the Terriers’ first tournament victory since 1978, becoming the first team from the NEC to win an NCAA first round contest since FDU in 2012.

The team gave national power Indiana University all it can handle and more as it took the Hoosiers to the brink in the second round of the College Cup. The Terriers were edged in penalty kicks as the Hoosiers reached the final before losing.

The Terriers finished with a record of 6-1-3 (overall) and 5-1-1 (NEC) in the spring. Giovatto guided St. Francis to its sixth NEC regular season championship in program history and third in the last five years. The Terriers claimed their fifth NEC Championship under Giovatto and all five of those championships have come over the last eight seasons (2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, Spring 2021).

In the spring season, St. Francis ranked third 24th in the nation in save percentage (0.853), 27th in shots per game (14.2), 49th in shutout percentage (0.625) and 15th in team goals against average (0.559). The Terriers finished first in the NEC in assists per game (1.60), shots per game, shots on goal per game (5.5), total assists (16), and total points (40). They were second in the conference in corner kicks per game (6.0), goal differential (+8), points per game (4.50), save percentage, shutout percentage, team goals against average, and team goals (13).