ST. LOUIS – Webster University has been picked to repeat as St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference champions according to the 2013 SLIAC Men’s Soccer Preseason poll as voted on by league coaches. The Gorloks received 79 total points, including seven first-place votes to become preseason favorites.
Webster is coming off a 12-6-2 record last year in which they finished first in the regular season and won the SLIAC Tournament title. The Gorloks will not be without change this year though as they bring in new Head Coach Michael Siener, who spent the previous two years as the program’s Associate Head Coach and is taking over following Marty Todt. Siener will have to rebuild a starting lineup that returns just three starters but has plenty of players he is familiar with as 15 players return. Heading up the team are a pair of First Team All-Conference juniors in Mike Wells and Brian Woodward. Wells, a midfielder, scored a team high eight goals last year while Woodward, a goalkeeper, recorded eight shutouts and 87 saves while finishing third in the conference in goals-against average. Senior forward Pat McCaffrey is also back and hopes to build upon his standout post-season play in which he was named SLIAC Tournament MVP.
The battle for second place is predicted to be a close one as three times are within two points of each other in the preseason poll. Fontbonne University, which finished last season in fourth place, is the picked to edge out the others for second place after picking up 64 total points including two first-place votes. The Griffins finished last year 12-6-2 and 5-3 in the SLIAC and return 18 players including seven starters. They will be led by senior Joe Tibbles, who led one of the stingiest defenses in the league last year. Midfielders Josh Schulz and Tim Menzel were each named Second Team All-Conference last season and will be joined by midfielder Zach Schuchardt in order to help control the offense. The Griffins also bring in several newcomers including freshmen Ben Boyd and David McCoy and junior transfer Jason Howard.
After tying for second place in the regular season last year both Westminster College and Greenville College are picked tied to finish in third place in this year’s preseason poll, with 62 total points. Westminster picked up the final first-place vote in the poll and returns 20 players including nine starters from a team that went 10-7-2 last season. The Blue Jays will be led by first year head coach Andrew Bordelon and will look to their experienced team to make a return to the post-season. Seniors Michael McDonough, Ronald Moore and Jason Joshua return after being named Second Team All-Conference last season while senior Ty Cook, named Third Team, is also back. The Blue Jays will look to a trio of freshmen in Diego Veintimilla, Peter Gerber and Jordan Reiske to provide added depth.
Greenville College finished 2012 with a 10-6-3 overall record and a 5-0-3 mark in the SLIAC. They return 13 players and seven starters and will be headed up by first year head coach Chris Swift. The Panthers bring back Second Team All-Conference goalkeeper Thomas Crown who led the conference in goals against with a 1.01 average. Providing defensive support in front of Crown is returnee Dusty Knoll, a junior defender that anchored the conference’s top defense and was named Third Team All-Conference last season. Also back are senior forward Robert Wright, who was second on the team in scoring last year with six goals, and senior midfielder Jacob Krisher who tallied four goals and a team high five assists. Greenville’s incoming class is highlighted by freshmen Peter Plakorus and Jacob Jones and junior Alex Ruppert.
Principia College received 50 total points and was picked to finish in fifth place this season. The Panthers finished last year 5-14-1 overall but put together a strong conference mark at 4-2-1. They return all 11 starters from last year’s team and are led by longtime head coach Vitalis Otieno. A pair of returning First Team All-Conference players, senior defender John Gotwals and senior forward McGuire Semnacher, will led the way for the team. Leif Carlson, named Second Team All-Conference, and Abi Carper and Nate Waters, each named Honorable Mention, are also back this season. Gavin Thomas, a senior goalkeeper transfer, will be counted on to provide support in net.
Spalding University was picked to finish sixth this season after picking up 46 total points. The Golden Eagles were 6-10-2 last season and return nine starters and 19 players. They will be led by 2012 SLIAC Newcomer of the Year sophomore midfielder Julio De Leon. De Leon led the conference in assists with 11 and was named First Team All-Conference. Sophomore midfielder Stephen Hubert returns as one of De Leon’s favorite targets after scoring nine goals last season, third most in the conference. Junior defender Deron Buehner and junior forward Colin Peters, each named Honorable Mention All-Conference, also return for Spalding. A pair of transfers in junior defender Trevor Bruner and sophomore Justin Toller will be looked to add to the rotation.
Blackburn College received 27 total points and is picked to finish seventh this year. The Beavers will be led by first year head coach Rob Steinkuehler, who takes over a team that was 7-10 overall last season and brings back five starters. Among the returning starters are junior goalkeeper Shane Rogers and junior midfielder Julian Valencia. Rogers led the conference in saves with 147 and added four shutouts last season. After losing the top two scorers in the conference last season, they will lean on the arrival of a trio of freshmen in Jonathan Velazquez, Nate Kinnison and Brendan Krekeler to provide some scoring punch.
Iowa Wesleyan College, a newcomer to the league this year, received 26 points and is picked to finish eighth in the conference. The Tigers were 7-10 last season and are coached by Brocklon Chatman, who is in his second season at the helm. Chatman and the Tigers already have some familiarity with their conference foes this year as they played seven games against SLIAC members last season in preparation, recording three wins. They will be led by sophomore defender Tyler Hitt as well as incoming freshman Bo Vitale, who was named the Southeast Iowa Player of the Year in high school.
Eureka College picked up 19 total points and is predicted to finish ninth in the SLIAC. The Red Devils bring in new head coach, Brian O’Malley an alum and former soccer standout, who served the previous two years as an assistant coach with the team. The Red Devils went 2-15 last season and will be led by forwards Mark Meyer and Todd Sluder. Meyer, a sophomore, led the team in scoring last season with four goals and two assists, recording his team’s only two game winning goals while Sluder added three goals and two assists.
MacMurray College received 14 total points in the poll and was chosen to finish tenth in the conference this year. The Highlanders were 5-12-1 last season but were unable to pick up a win in conference play. They bring back an experienced roster highlighted by four juniors: Connor Winking, Bradley Wise, Mason Rowe, Blake Camacho and Ari Sandoval. Camacho led the team in scoring last season with seven goals and five assists while Wise added a team high eight assists to go with three goals. MacMurray will look to newcomers Jeremy Zytnowski and Zac Bozarth to help on the field.