The Mountain East Conference released its preseason men's soccer poll on Thursday, choosing the University of Charleston as the favorite to win the new league. The Golden Eagles collected six out of a possible seven first-place votes.
UC topped the poll with 48 points, followed by Notre Dame College(39), which received the other first-place vote. The Golden Eagles checked in at 11th in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) poll, while the Falcons are ranked 25th heading into the 2013 season.
West Virginia Wesleyan (34) was picked to finish third, followed by Urbana and Wheeling Jesuit in a tie for fourth with 26 points. Shepherd finished in sixth with 15 points, trailed by Concord with eight.
Charleston finished last season with a record of 13-2-4 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. The Golden Eagles lost top scorer Rob Vincent (9G, 7A), but welcome back sophomore Renan Ramos (4G, 5A) and junior Nathan Schmitt (5G, 2A). UC will be starting a new goalkeeper after losing starter Sean Teepen to graduation.
Notre Dame College finished 15-6-2 last year and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Falcons are led by All-America senior Tom Owens who poured in 12 goals and added 10 assists last season. NDC will also bring back a pair of defenders in front of keeper Jan Skorupinski who started all 21 games last year and made 49 saves with a goals-against average of 1.24.
West Virginia Wesleyan scored over three goals a game last year on its way to a 13-5-1 record in 2012. The Bobcats return among the top scorers in the country in Matt Brown (13G, 9A) and Jordan Halpern (11G, 4A), as well as goalkeeper Derek Ayers (1.06 GAA, 36 saves).
Urbana was picked to finish fourth after posting a 10-7-1 record and winning both the Great Midwest Athletic Conference (G-MAC) regular season and conference tournament. The Blue Knights return Tyler Wason who was among the leaders in NCAA Division II in goals (13), points (30) and points per game (1.16).
Wheeling Jesuit is tied for fourth with Urbana. The Cardinals enter the 2013 season with leading scorer Luke Roan (8G, 5A) returning in the midfield. They also return three starters from their back line in addition to keeper Cody Thompson to help solidify the defense.
Shepherd will look to improve upon its 9-9-1 record in 2012. The Rams lost top goal scorer Shane Lowery to graduation, but bring back seniors Kevin Doyle, Griffin Frazier and Abel Setegn. Doyle netted three goals last season, while Frazier contributed a pair of assists. Setegn added a goal and a team-best five assists.
Concord welcomes back 13 lettermen and seven starters from a 2012 squad which posted the program's second-highest win total since Concord reinstated the program in 2008. Leading the Mountain Lions in 2013 will be seniors Tyler Farrar and Sebastian Escobar, who have combined to play in 103 games in their Concord
The 2013 men's soccer season begins the weekend of Sept. 5, and Mountain East Conference play begins on Saturday, Sept. 14.
Mountain East Conference Men's Soccer Preseason Poll
1. Charleston 48 (6)
2. Notre Dame 39 (1)
3. West Virginia Wesleyan 34
T4. Urbana 26
T4.Wheeling Jesuit 26
6. Shepherd 15
7. Concord 8