INDIANAPOLIS -- Capping a remarkable turnaround, Wright State has been voted into first place in the Horizon League men’s soccer preseason poll. In a narrow vote that saw the top three teams separated by two points, the Raiders captured the top spot with 40 points. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own squad.
In 2011, Wright State was picked last in the preseason poll before putting forth a second-place effort in the regular season and finishing as finalists in the league tournament. In 2012, 10 starters return, including junior Bryce Rockwell-Ashton, who was named First Team All-Horizon League last season. Also back are sophomores Craig Feehan, Justin Laird and Gustav Svensson, who were each selected to the All-Newcomer Team, with the keeper Feehan being chosen as the 2011 Newcomer of the Year.
Narrowly missing out on first place was Cleveland State, which finished third last year. All three of its first team honorees from 2011 - Admir Suljevic, Aaron Adkins and Manuel Conde - return for the Vikings. Junior Brad Stuver, who has earned all-league accolades each of his first two seasons, will anchor keeping duties for CSU.
Despite receiving the most first-place votes, defending regular season champion Valparaiso finished third in the poll, two points behind Wright State. Traditionally one of the strongest defensive teams in the League, the Crusaders will look to First Team All-League goalkeeper Kyle Zobeck to set the Crusader defense along with senior Jonathon Smith.
Receiving the final first-place tally was UIC, which tied with city rival Loyola for fourth in the poll with 29 points. The Flames will be bolstered by the return of Ivan Stanisavljevic, who in his junior year earned Offensive Player of the Year honors in the Horizon League.
A year after becoming the lowest seed to ever win the Horizon League Tournament, Loyola will turn to the tournament MVP, Peter McKeown, to lead from his goalkeeper position in his final season. Eric Nock and Brian Bement will be asked to handle the offensive load for the defensively strong Ramblers.
Dan Popikbecomes the third Green Bay head coach in as many seasons, but returns back one of the top keepers in the League in Ryan Wehking. Popik will also rely on forward Kirby Allen, an All-Newcomer selection a year ago for the Phoenix.
Milwaukee brought former Green Bay head coach Kris Kelderman down I-43 to revitalize its program, and Kelderman will bring back nine starters from the 2011 squad. Kelderman will turn to senior John Shakon in net, while turning loose Cody Banks and Robbie Boyd up front.
Detroit, which rounded out the poll, brings back its two top scorers from 2011, as Adam Bedell and Pat Lepera will lead head coach Nick Deren’s squad.
The men’s soccer regular season begins on Friday, Aug. 24. The Horizon League Tournament will feature the top six teams in the League beginning on Tuesday, Nov. 6 at campus sites and continuing at the venue of the No. 1 seed Nov. 9-11.
2012 Men's Soccer Preseason Poll
|1.||Wright State (2)||40|
|2.||Cleveland State (2)||39|