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Men's Soccer - Tue, Aug. 25, 2009
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BATESVILLE, Ark. - Defending NAIA National Champion Bethel University is an overwhelming favorite to repeat as TranSouth Conference champion and was listed as the first-place team on seven of the eight ballots in the 2009 TranSouth Men's Soccer Preseason Coaches' Poll.

Bethel, ranked No. 1 in the 2009 NAIA Preseason Top 25 rankings, won its second TranSouth Tournament title in three years in 2008 and finished tied for first in the 2008 regular-season standings with Martin Methodist. No other TranSouth team was ranked in the NAIA Preseason Top 25.
The NAIA Preseason Top 25 can be found here.

Martin Methodist was voted second in the TranSouth Preseason Poll with 69 points and received the remaining first place vote, Mid-Continent placed third with 63 points, Union was fourth (61), Cumberland finished fifth (42), Trevecca Nazarene was sixth (41), Lyon ranked seventh (38) and Freed-Hardeman was eighth with 24 points.



2009 MEN'S SOCCER PRE-SEASON COACHES POLL
(rank-team-total points, first place votes in parentheses)


1.  
Bethel University (6)      
79
2.
Martin Methodist (1)
69
3.
Mid-Continent
63
4.
Union University
61
5.
Cumberland University
42
6.
Trevecca Nazarene
41
7.
Lyon College
38
8.
Freed-Hardeman
24


TEAM-BY-TEAM PREVIEWS
listed in order of predicted finish in coaches poll


BETHEL UNIVERSITY WILDCATS

Chalk it up as another first for the Bethel University men's soccer program.  After winning fourteen straight games and clinching the school's first national championship, the Wildcats enter the 2009 season #1 in the NAIA Pre-Season poll.  Bethel received 19 of the 21 first place votes with #2 University of Rio Grande and #3 Oklahoma City University splitting the remaining two.  Bethel defeated both teams en route to the title.

Head Coach Melvin Belong enters his third season at the top of the mountain but that doesn't seem to phase him.

"We're looking forward to the season," said Belong. "Basically we know everyone is gunning for us. We have a tough schedule and we really want to repeat.  Our goal when I took over was to create an elite program, a program that would be nationally recognized.  We just have to carry on and try to stay on top.  Its kind of scary [being ranked #1], yes, but you want to be on top."

The Wildcats will see some changes including the loss of senior defender Keith Brown.  But, the core of the team is back.  Up front, Bethel has the dangerous tandem of sophomores Dawayne Smith, 2008 TranSouth Second Team All-Conference and Mario Villa Boa, the 2008 NAIA National Championship Most Valuable Player.  In the middle is NAIA All-American Felix Obilio, TSAC Second Team Armando Orozoco and Erik Rosas.  The defense welcomes back TSAC Second Teamer Joseph Omondi.  And in the net is TSAC First Team Massimo Collu-Marchese.

The seven starting returners are joined by 21 newcomers, including seven junior varsity teamers.  The team features players from thirteen different countries.



MARTIN METHODIST REDHAWKS

The Martin Methodist College men's soccer team looks to defend the TranSouth Regular Season Title in 2009. The RedHawks fell short in the 2008 TSAC tournament finals in 2008 losing to Bethel College in a shoot out.  Martin Methodist was 6-1 in the TranSouth in 2008 and was 12-3-1 overall last season.

The RedHawks lost some key players to graduation including TranSouth All-Conference Players, defender Luke Beckett, defender Jaymes Beckett, and midfielder Simone Enrici all graduate from Martin Methodist in May. On the bright side the RedHawks will return TranSouth All-Conference Players, forward Fernando Barberio, midfielder Fernando Andrade, and forward Tiago Reichert, the TranSouth Freshman of the Year and the RedHawks leading scorer last season.

Forward Andrew Gordon, midfielders Chris McBride, and Shayne Rollins, goalkeeper James Colman as well as defenders Robert Coffey, Joseph Beecroft will all be suiting up in the red and black for the RedHawks again this season.
 
Paschal Dunne is entering his 13th season as the head coach of the RedHawks. Coach Dunne has been recruiting during the off-season bringing in some fresh faces to fill the spots left by the graduating seniors. The guys have been training hard in the off season and will be a tough team on the field again this year in the TranSouth as well as the NAIA.



MID-CONTINENT COUGARS

Mid-Continent coach Joe Zakowicz knows that MCU truly is a side opponents must reckon with in 2009.  He begins his tenth season leading MCU against six teams ranked in the NAIA Top 25 preseason coaches' poll including number one Bethel, the defending NAIA champion, number two Rio Grande, and number six Lindsey Wilson.
 
MCU sets out to better last season's 12-8-3 record and number four TSAC tournament seed.  MCU placed third at the NCCAA National Tournament, but his team aspirations include regular season and TSAC tournament titles and playing at the NAIA National Tournament.
 
MCU returns 12 players, including seven frequent starters, and three players who did not play last season but played for the 2007 NAIA Sweet 16 team and TSAC tournament winner.  MCU replaces All-TSAC first team Freddy Okello (19 goals), and All-TSAC first team David Otieno (7 goals and 8 assists).
 
Senior forward Wayne McCarron accounted for 5 goals and 12 assists in 2008 and garnered four post-season honors, including All-TSAC second team and NCCAA All-America second team. Junior Marcio das Neves, a 2007 All-TSAC first team and NAIA All-America honorable mention choice, returns from Olivet Nazarene.
 
In the midfield, sophomore Creighton Brooks returns with sophomores Ricky Christie and Marco Prates and junior Dan Chilton, who played in 2007, controls the middle.  Two-year starter Keane Bennett and senior Gerardo Herrera, who played from 2005-07, handle the defensive wings, and two-year starters Algeon Sappleton and Simon Ombima and highly-touted freshman Gilles Nziengui cover the middle. Confident freshman Alexis Mina takes over in goal for David Etale, who recorded seven shutouts in 2008.



UNION UNIVERSITY BULLDOGS

The Union University 2009 version of the men's soccer team moves into the fourth season with head coach Clovis Simas at the helm. The Bulldogs of Union are coming off a 9-6-2 season with a 5-2 (3rd place) TranSouth finish, just one game off the leaders that finished tied at 6-1. Union has several key players returning in hopes of improving on that conference finish and battle for a league title. Sixteen of the 34 total players are returning, however, only eight of those returners are upperclassmen.

Five seniors are returning to help lead the squad with their skills and experience. Paul Turner, Anthony O'Neill, Marcos Matos and Kevin Bradley all are back after successful seasons last year. Turner was one of three Union players to make the all-conference squad. Craig Clark returns to Union for his final year of eligibility after sitting out last season.

Jordan Thompson and Mike Phelan return as juniors after starting games in 2008.

Nine sophomores return with seven of them playing significant time for the varsity team during their freshman season. James Landham leads the way as he earned all-conference honors as a freshman goalie for Union. Nic Desio, Dejan Kostic, Rafael Carvalho, Chris Waugh, Nate Peterson and Cooper Rawls all return after playing in 2008.

Top newcomers Clark, Guilherme Celli, Alysson Mohl and Taylor Mayo will work to lead the young players as they are expected to produce results this season.

The 2008 season saw Union finish just one game away from a conference title, and just one game behind the eventual NAIA National Champion which came from the TranSouth. Those results, despite being disappointing when looking back, give this team motivation and confidence as they enter the 2009 season.



CUMBERLAND UNIVERSITY BULLDOGS

The Cumberland men's soccer team returns 16 letterwinners from last season's club that finished 6-7-1 overall and 2-5-0 in the TranSouth, including nine starters.
 
The roster is filled with 16 upperclassmen, including 10 seniors, under third-year head coach Jeff Loucks, who says this year's squad is ready to take the next step.
 
"We've very upperclassmen heavy. We've improved the last two years and now in my third season, the men aren't looking for improvement," Loucks said. "They're looking to win something. If things go well and the injury bug doesn't bite anymore than it already has, we should have a chance at that goal."
 
Junior midfielder and First Team All-TranSouth performer Kempess Villafana has already been lost for the season with a knee injury suffered in July, but First Team All-TSAC defender Yue Wang returns to lead a defense that allowed just 20 goals total last season, a 1.43 goals-against-average.
 
Villafana led the squad with eight goals last season, but Robert Boyd and JJ Henderson both scored three goals while combining for seven assists in 2008. Newcomers Neil Howard and Bradley Williams, both from England, will also be expected to contribute for the veteran club.



TREVECCA NAZARENE TROJANS

Traditions start with a foundation. In his inaugural season as Trevecca's Men's Soccer Coach Danny Leavy is optimistic to further build that tradition upon the foundation laid by former coach Jeff Carr.
 
Fifteen players are returning with a well-balanced team of seniors and underclassmen the Trojans will be able to further stabilize a winning and sportsmanship tradition.
 
Three seniors, Calvin da Cunha, Josh Forth, and Parker Hughes will set the pace. Canadians Forth and Cunha both did not play last season however are dynamic players. Forth brings his diverse soccer ability while Cunha can play any position on the pitch and as a highly decorated bio. Hughes is a leader and had two big goals last season.
 
The junior class is five strong. Benji Bussell, Fernado Lopez, Alex , Craig Parker, and Philip Walker can  provide experience, skill and secondary leadership.
 
Hayden Coffman tips a strong sophomore class in goal. John Sheets, Darragh Bugter, Alija Turkovic, Jordan Enix, and Jonathan Guardarrama were all key contributors as freshman and provide a view of the future.
 
Local products Drew Lewis and Mark Michael as well as Floridian Alex Stagman 
 
Coach Leavy has stated, "From top to bottom the conference is very well rounded and the non-conference games will be extremely challenging." 
 
However, Coach Leavy has set the bar high and coming off a strong finish from the previous year the goal of winning the TranSouth is the team's goal.



LYON COLLEGE SCOTS
The Lyon College Scots soccer team had a record campaign in 2008 with a school-record 10 victories and an appearance in the semifinals of the TranSouth Conference Tournament.

Lyon finished 10-9 overall in '08 and placed fourth in the TranSouth with a 3-4 mark. The Scots earned their semifinal appearance with a shootout win over Mid-Continent in the opening round, but fell in the semis to eventual conference runner-up Martin Methodist.

Long-time Lyon head coach Jeremy Bishop departed to Division I Central Arkansas in the offseason, and the Scots turned over the reigns to new head coach Brett Parker, who was an NAIA All-American in his playing days at Ottawa University.

With the loss of only one senior (defender Ryan Harness) to graduation, along with seventeen incoming freshmen, Lyon fans can remain positive about 2009's prospects to improve upon last season's record finish.

Eleven returning starters will grace the field this season, including first-team All-TranSouth Conference goalkeeper Matt Callaway and second-team All-TranSouth players Russell Williams, Daniel Young and Greg Buford. Leading scorer Tyler Northrip (nine goals and four assists in 2008) and three-year starter Gabriel LeBlanc also return to the starting lineup along with Kevin Solomon, David Cottrell, Gueorgui Tchamkoriyski, Liam George and Stephen Dallas.

Among the 18 exciting newcomers who will hit the Huser Field grass for the first time in 2009 are impact freshman forward Robert Hall (Hull, England) and senior transfer Greg Ibach (Northridge, Calif.) formerly of College of Santa Fe.



FREED-HARDEMAN LIONS
With eight of 11 starters back on the field after a seven-win season in 2008, the Freed-Hardeman Lions will attempt to build on what they started last year.

All-conference goalkeeper Alexandre Girodo returns for the Lions after posting four clean sheets in 2008 while saving 132 shots.  The Lions should also get a full season from sophomore sweeper Archibold Marowa, whose freshman campaign ended early due to injury. Marowa has the ability to be an impact player on defense.  He will be joined by returning starters Saul Simpson and Icaro Alves on the back line.

The Lions should feature an improved front line and midfield with the returns of Simbarashe Zvaita, who led the team in scoring as a freshman last year, and Travis Shivers, the return of Ryan Engineer from injury, and the additions of Tafara Tanarwo and Adimou Barry, a transfer from Crichton (Tenn.) College.

Ninth-year head coach Jason Elliott expects several freshmen to compete for playing time, including defenders Colby Phillips and Jon Riley and midfielders Nolan Beede and Derek Estes.