UNCG picked fourth by SoCon men's soccer coaches
SPARTANBURG, S.C. - UNC Greensboro was picked a solid fourth when the Southern Conference released the preseason voting of the league's men's soccer coaches on Thursday.
Elon has been tabbed the preseason favorite to win the Southern Conference's men's soccer regular-season championship. The Phoenix, who finished the 2008 regular season 7-0, received four first-place votes in balloting conducted by the league's head coaches. The coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team or student-athletes in preseason balloting, which also included a preseason all-conference team.
Furman and College of Charleston tied for second place in the preseason rankings. The Paladins and Cougars each received two first-place votes and recorded 40 points apiece. Furman went 4-3 against league foes last season while the Cougars finished 3-4.
UNCG was picked fourth. Appalachian State garnered 26 points and was slotted fifth. Georgia Southern, Wofford and Davidson rounded out the poll.
One of the nation's most successful programs year in and year out, UNCG was in the unlikely role of Cinderella in last year's NCAA Tournament. Bouncing back from its first losing regular season in 30 years, the Spartans won the Southern Conference Tournament from the No. 7 seed and then knocked off Duke and ninth-seeded Loyola (Md.) on the road in the NCAA Tournament to advance to the Round of 16 for the fourth time in five years. UNCG (10-11-3) nearly advanced to the quarterfinal round, but a late goal in regulation and the advantage in penalty kicks gave South Florida the advance past the Spartans.
The Spartans lost seven players from the 2008 squad, including MLS draftee Jokull Elisabetarson. However, along with returning six of the 12 field players that started 10 or more matches last season, UNCG will regain the services of 2007 leading scorer Thomas Campbell, who missed all of 2008 following preseason knee surgery.
Appalachian State, Elon and Furman each placed three members on the preseason all-conference team. Midfielder Arie Muniz, defender Steven Sassano and goalkeeper Colin Taylor represented the Mountaineers. Taylor shared the nod at goalkeeper with Elon's Clint Irwin. Forward Justin Wyatt, who led the league in points and goals last season, and defender Steven Kinney represented the Phoenix. Furman's Jonathan Collier (defense), Warren Creavalle (midfield) and Coleton Henning (forward) garnered preseason honors for the Paladins.
Forwards Matt Morris and Kareem Yearwood were selected to the preseason all-conference team for the Cougars. Yearwood was named second team all-conference last year, while Davidson's Alex Caskey, a first-team all-conference selection in 2008, also garnered preseason honors.
The 2009 season begins Tuesday, Sept. 1, when five Southern Conference teams take the pitch. The 2009 Southern Conference Men's Soccer Championship will take place Nov. 13 & 15.
2009 Men's Soccer Preseason Coaches' Poll - ( ) Denotes first-place votes
1. Elon (4) 44
t-2. College of Charleston (2) 40
t-2. Furman (2) 40
4. UNC Greensboro 33
5. Appalachian State 26
6. Georgia Southern 19
7. Wofford 14
8. Davidson 8
2009 Men's Soccer Preseason All-Conference Team
F Coleton Henning, Furman
F Matt Morris, College of Charleston
F Justin Wyatt, Elon
F Kareem Yearwood, College of Charleston
MF Alex Caskey, Davidson
MF Warren Creavalle, Furman
MF Arie Muniz, Appalachian State
D Jonathan Collier, Furman
D Steven Kinney, Elon
D Steven Sassano, Appalachian State
GK Clint Irwin, Elon
GK Colin Taylor, Appalachian State
- UNCG -