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WVU men’s soccer picked to win Sun Belt

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — No. 6 WVU men’s soccer is the preseason favorite to place first in the Sun Belt Conference, according to the league’s preseason poll.

West Virginia, which is entering its inaugural season of competition in the Sun Belt, placed first in the preseason poll with 75 total points and five first-place votes. The poll, which is comprised of votes from all nine of the league’s head coaches, was released Monday.

The Mountaineers narrowly edged in-state rival Marshall, which garnered 72 points and three first-place votes in the poll. Kentucky ranks third in the poll with 69 points and the final first-place vote.

Last fall, head coach Dan Stratford’s team was also picked to finish first in the MAC preseason poll ahead of its final year of competition in that league. While the Mountaineers failed to win the league title, they compiled a 12-3-6 overall record and advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals for the first time in four decades.

RELATED: WVU enters preseason ranked No. 6 in the nation

In addition, defender Bjarne Thiesen was named to the Preseason All-Sun Belt Team. The Kiel, Germany, native started all 21 matches for WVU in 2021, totaling two goals in 1,980 minutes of action. Following the campaign, Thiesen was named to the United Soccer Coaches All-America Third Team, as well as TopDrawerSoccer’s Best XI Third Team.

West Virginia opens the 2022 slate on Thursday, Aug. 25, against Robert Morris. Kickoff at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium in Morgantown is set for 7 p.m. ET.

See the full preseason poll below:

2022 Sun Belt Conference Preseason Coaches Poll

  1. West Virginia – 75 points (5)
  2. Marshall – 72 (3)
  3. Kentucky – 69 (1)
  4. South Carolina – 41
    T5. Coastal Carolina – 39
    T5. James Madison – 39
    7.   Georgia State – 35
    8.   Old Dominion – 20
    9.   Georgia Southern – 15