ROCK HILL, S.C. – Tusculum has been selected by the SAC men's soccer coaches as the preseason favorite to win the 2012 league title, while Mars Hill leads the preseason All-Conference Team, it was released on Tuesday.
Tusculum, which received two first-place votes, finished second in the SAC standings last year after going 6-1-2 in the league.
The Pioneers' roster features four members of the 2012 preseason All-SAC Team, including a pair of first-team defenders, Matias Rubio and Fredrik Muren. The duo helped TC allow the third-fewest goals per game in the SAC last season.
Just one point behind Tusculum in the preseason poll at No. 2 was Mars Hill, which garnered four first-place votes. Coming off an NCAA Soccer Championship appearance in 2011, the Lions have been ranked No. 17 in the preseason NSCAA national poll, and lead the SAC with six selections to the preseason All-Conference Team.
Among MHC's All-SAC selections are first-team forwards Stephen Bivens and Felipe Ferraro, midfielder Alex Mullen and goalkeeper Zac Scott.
Scott had the best goals against average of any SAC keeper last season, allowing just 0.65 goals per match.
One point behind Mars Hill in the poll was defending SAC regular season and tournament champion Anderson at No. 3. The Trojans, who went a perfect 9-0 in the conference in 2011, received three first-place votes in the preseason poll.
AU's 2012 roster will feature four members of the preseason All-SAC Team, including first-team picks Shu Ogawa (midfielder) and Lukas Hesse (goalkeeper).
Lincoln Memorial was fourth in the preseason poll and received one first-place vote. LMU placed four student-athletes on the preseason All-SAC Team – three on the First Team and one on the Second Team – led by the conference's 2011 Freshman of the Year, forward Mario Pinto.
Pinto finished second in the conference last season in both goals and points.
Lenoir-Rhyne was voted No. 5 in the preseason poll, followed by No. 6 Carson-Newman. Three Eagles players were named to the preseason All-SAC Second Team.
Catawba and Wingate tied for No. 7 in the preseason poll after finishing sixth and eighth in last year's conference standings, respectively.
Catawba had three players selected to the preseason All-SAC First Team, including forward Carson Smith, who finished second in the league in assists in 2011.
Completing the poll were No. 9 Newberry and No. 10 Brevard. Two Newberry student-athletes earned spots on the preseason All-SAC Second Team.
|Team||Points (1st-place votes)|
|1. Tusculum||69 (2)|
|2. Mars Hill||68 (4)|
|3. Anderson||67 (3)|
|4. Lincoln Memorial||62 (1)|