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Men's Soccer - Tue, Aug. 17, 2010
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The TranSouth Conference coaches unanimously voted the Bethel Wildcats, NAIA National Champions in 2008 and the TranSouth regular-season champions in 09, as a favorite to capture the regular season crown again in 2010 in the league's preseason men's soccer poll.


This was the second straight season the Wildcats have been the coaches' preseason favorite to win. Bethel earned all eight of the coaches' first-place votes and tallied 80 points in the voting.


Martin Methodist, the 2009 TranSouth Conference Tournament champions and a national quarterfinalist, placed second in the voting with 71 points. Cumberland was third with 54 points. Lyon and Mid-Continent tied for fourth with 50 points apiece, Union was in sixth with 44 points, Trevecca Nazarene seventh with 43 points and FHU was eighth with 24 points.


The NAIA Top 25 is scheduled to be released today and can be found here.



2010 PRESEASON MEN'S SOCCER COACHES' POLL
(rank-team-total points, first place votes in parentheses)


1.
 Bethel University (8)
 80
2.
 Martin Methodist
 71
3.
 Cumberland
 54
4.
 Lyon College
 50

 Mid-Continent
 50
6.
 Union University
 44
7.
 Trevecca Nazarene
 43
8.
 Freed-Hardeman
 24


TEAM-BY-TEAM PREVIEWS
(listed in order of finish in coaches poll)


BETHEL UNIVERSITY WILDCATS

Bethel University Wildcat Soccer is coming off one of the more successful seasons in school history. The 2008 NAIA National Champions finished the 2009 regular season undefeated and were the TranSouth Men's Champions. The team dropped a tough decision to conference foe Martin Methodist in post season play and then after defeating Kansas Wesleyan University in the first round of the NAIA tournament, they bowed out with a loss to Simon Fraser in round two.


The 2010 squad will be one of the most experienced and deepest in school history.


The Wildcats lost only one senior from last year. Massimo Cullo-Marchese was an Honorable Mention All-American, and will be missed. Coach Melvin Belong will look to seniors, Felix Obilo, Armando Orozco, and Erick Rosas. Obilo and Orozco were All-Conference last year. Juniors, Mario Vila Boa and Joseph Omondi both look to continue their great play. Omondi was a First Team NAIA All-American Defender, while Mario Vila Boa was Conference Player of the Year. Junior Dawyne Smith was also TranSouth All-Conference.


The Cats play one of the toughest schedules in the nation. The schedule includes defending champions Lindsay Wilson and seven other Top 25 ranked teams.


Coach Belong will be in his fourth year as head coach at Bethel. He commented on the upcoming season, "We are returning three seniors and three juniors. We hope our experience translates into a successful season. We are excited about our newcomers and feel they will be a part of that success as well." Belong added, "Our expectation each year is to achieve the ultimate goal of winning the national title. We want to achieve team chemistry and energy. We hope to play attractive and result based soccer and approach each game like it is our last."




MARTIN METHODIST REDHAWKS

Martin Methodist's 2009 men's soccer team set the bar high for the upcoming season, as the RedHawks earned a trip to their first-ever NAIA Men's Soccer National Championship. Head Coach Paschal Dunne guided MMC to the Elite Eight where the RedHawks fell to eventual National Champion Lindsey Wilson.


Dunne, entering his 14th year as Martin Methodist's head coach, will look to again restore the men's soccer program in the national ranks in 2010.


The RedHawks were not the favored TranSouth Champions in 2009, but defeated defending NAIA National Champion and NAIA No. 1 Bethel University for the title after putting together a 5-1-1 record in the TranSouth Athletic Conference.


Despite losing four to graduation after the 2009 season, the RedHawks will return key players in their 2010 quest. Junior Joseph Beecroft was a 2009 NAIA All-American and a member of the TranSouth All-Conference first team, and will continue to patrol the backfield for MMC. All-Conference selection forward Andrew Gordon also returns to the squad, with seniors Chris McBride and James Coleman expected by Dunne to develop into key components for the RedHawks.


Five of the NAIA's final Top 25 in 2009 are among MMC's competition this season, as the RedHawks open with Bethel (Ind.) University on August 28 at home. A noted match-up with TSAC rival Bethel University is on the books amidst this year's conference schedule for October 13 at home, as MMC has the target on their backs as the defending TSAC champion. .



CUMBERLAND UNIVERSITY BULLDOGS

Fourth-year Cumberland head coach Jeff Loucks lost seven starters and nine seniors from last year's club that finished 3-3-1 in the TranSouth, but the club returns essentially five starters, including 2008 First Team All-TSAC midfielder Kempess Villafana, who missed all of 2009 after suffering a knee injury last July.


"We are counting on a bunch of kids to step up and fulfill expectations, whether those are returning players who will have to play a bigger role or newcomers," Loucks said. "We lost nine seniors, who all graduated in May, so there are some big shoes to fill for everyone on our club."


The Bulldog defense must be completely rebuilt after graduating five seniors, including keeper Michael Michailidis and defenders Adam Owczarzak, Yue Wang, Devon Ternent and Nguyen Nguyen.


"We lost the entire backline and keeper but have brought in four new defenders along with Zack Batty, who has gained experience over the last two seasons. But it will be a young group who hasn't played together as we head into the season.


"Gubby John-Williams, a senior, and sophomore Matthew Shattuck will battle for the No. 1 goalie spot," Loucks said. "Gubby has match experience and Matthew played in one game last season, so there will be a lot of competition for that job as we head into the year."


The backbone of this year's club should come in the midfield, where Villafana returns along with last year's starters Neil Howard, Bradley Williams and Robert Boyd. Villafana scored eight goals with three assists in 2008, while Howard, Williams and Boyd combined for only three goals but 11 assists last season.


"We hope one of our newcomers, Harry Mason, will help with our goal-scoring woes from a year ago, when we netted just 18," Loucks said. "We are looking for contributions from a number of newcomers, and their good play should provide us with some depth."


Cumberland has also upgraded its schedule for 2010, adding the likes of Lindenwood University and Harris Stowe along with the challenging conference slate that includes perennial powers Bethel University and Martin Methodist.




LYON COLLEGE SCOTS

The fortunes of the 2010 Lyon College Scots men's soccer team are tied to an transfusion of fresh blood on the pitch this season. Twenty-three players have a season or less of individual experience at the colligate level, but second-year Scots' Head Coach Brett Parker hopes that his upperclassmen can set an example for the youngsters and speed the seasoning process along.


Last season, the Scots finished with a school-record 10 wins against six losses and one tie, but with the departure of three of its top four point producers (Gabriel LeBlanc, Greg Buford and All-Conference forward Stephen Dallas) and the loss of a two-time All-Conference keeper in Matt Callaway to graduation, not to mention ten freshmen and 13 sophomores on the roster, the Scots will have to grow up fast to match or exceed that school-record victory total


"Sure, we're a bit of an unknown," said Parker, "because of our large number of underclassmen. But our expectations are to build on our success the past few seasons and continue to push towards becoming an NAIA Top 25 program and TranSouth championship contender."


Lyon returns six starters combined on defense and in the midfield - Robert Hall, Kevin Solomon, Gueorgui Tchamkoriyski, Liam George and A.C. Tortorich - and those players could help the Scots take the first steps toward accomplishing those aforementioned goals in 2010.


Among his crop of newcomers, Parker is especially excited about Western Texas transfers Igor Pavlovic (Prokupjle, Serbia), a defender, and forward/midfielder Bill Jefferies (Kalundborg, Denmark).


The regular season kicks off for the Scots at home on Aug. 29, with a match against Spring Hill College.





MID-CONTINENT COUGARS
Coach David Oesch took the reins of Mid-Continent's men's soccer program in February, 2010, and hit the recruiting trail hard. With pre-season workouts underway and the first matches looming, there remains questions about blending a handful of returning players from 2009 with a youthful newcomers into a united side.

Oesch, formerly at Bacone College, welcomes nine returning field players who account for 11 goals and 14 assists from last season's 6-8-5 squad. MCU fields 15 freshmen and sophomores as it meets three top 25 teams from the 2009 final NAIA poll - number one Bethel University and ninth-ranked William Carey and 15th-ranked Texas-Brownsville, MCU's first two opponents, Sept. 27-28, and a competitive TSAC schedule highlighted by home matches from TSAC Tournament champion Martin Methodist and regular-season champ Bethel.

"I will be asking a lot of our new players to be able to contribute immediately," acknowledges Oesch who also is counting on his returning senior captains to lead MCU's younger players. Seniors Dan Chilton and Marcio das Neves "must continue to establish themselves as leaders on and off the field," says Oesch. "Dan has the ability to rally our team in important moments during a match, and Marcio has the ability to change a match during key moments and set the tempo," he adds.

Senior defenders Keane Bennett and Algeon Sappleton enter their fourth seasons, and sophomore Gilles Nziengui returns for his second. Freshman forwards Jamison Imhoff, with 159 goals in his high school career, and Matt Kreutzer, with 72 goals, and freshman midfielder Mario Black give the Cougars a youthful triple threat.



UNION UNIVERSITY BULLDOGS
The 2010 Union University men's soccer team is looking to return to contending for league titles after missing the conference tournament for the first time since their inaugural season of 1998. Union

Union lost their only all-conference player and leading goal scorer in Paul Turner, along with their second leading goal score in Rafael Carvalho. However, head coach Clovis Simas returns several players that have adjusted to the college game and will begin to contribute to this seasons. He has brought in several newcomers to the program that will be able to provide an immediate impact.

The top returners include Dejan Kostic, Diego Santos, Alysson Mohl and Kemal Gogic. Kostic, Mohl and Gogic each started at least 11 matches last season and the three combined for five goals. Santos is returning after sitting out last season.

Four newcomers highlight the new class including Sutton Shults, Brian Castro, Luka Perkovic and Dragan Stanojevic.

This group is ready to compete and they look to return the Union program to one of the best in the TranSouth.



TREVECCA NAZARENE TROJANS
Trevecca coach Danny Leavy soaked in his surroundings during his first year with the Trojan program. He believes his second team has the makings of a team that could advance the program to a higher level.

"After seeing the level of competition in the conference, and it is very good," said Leavy. "I now have a history and we'll be a bit more confident and prepared."

"There is a certain buzz about the upcoming season," says Leavy. "There are new talented faces arriving and a strong core coming back."

The senior class is Benji Bussell, Philip Walker, Fernado Lopez, and Shane Cline. "This is a tough senior class full of leaders," says Leavy. "They have experience and we are fortunate to them for one more year."

The junior class starts with keeper Hayden Coffman says Leavy, "Coffman is one of the top goal keepers in conference and he will be looked to again to be the final line of defense." Josh Forth, Jordan Enix, Darragh Bugter, and John Sheets join Coffman in returning for their third year in the program.

They are joined by transfers Zach Trobaugh and Chet Hemenway. Hemenway played for DI programs Lipscomb University and Central Arkansas while Trobaugh played for Harris Young the last two years.

The sophomore class; Alex Stagman, Richard Thibaut Djapni, Dibran Rexhelpi, and Javier Delgados - all saw time in their freshman season and are looking for more impact on the pitch.

All nine freshman are from Middle Tennessee and all but one is 5'11" or taller, something Leavy said was a focal point, "The players we signed, especially the freshman, all are used to playing at a high level all the time. They have all played for good high school program and established club programs."



FREED-HARDEMAN LIONS
If a phrase that described the feelings entering the 2010 season for the Lion soccer program had to be identified, the best one would probably be "cautiously optimistic."

Coming off a nine-win campaign in 2009 that saw the Lions have one the best offensive seasons in program history, Freed-Hardeman returns eight starters and three of its top four goal-scorers including Ryan Engineer, whose 19 goals were best on the squad.

This year's team will be heavy on experience with six seniors and eight returning starters, but also welcomes a recruiting class with a lot of potential that head coach Jason Elliott expects to strengthen the midfield right away.

In addition to Engineer, other key returnees include Simbarashe Zvaita (11 goals, seven assists), Tafara Tinarwo and Nolan Beede (five goals, three assists) in the midfield, Archibold Marowa and Saul Simpson on defense, and Alexandre Girodo (103 saves) in goal. Elliott also looks for freshmen Guilherme Dorigo, Philipp Baier, Brandon Foresha, Kyle Wells and Kenniel Hyde to contribute at the midfield and forward spots right away.

The season opens with a long road trip with a total of six matches (including two exhibitions) being played before the home opener against Pikeville (Ky.) College on Sept. 3 as part of the annual Lions Cup Invitational. The Lions Cup begins a five-match home stand before hitting the road again for four straight. The Lions then finish the season out with another five-match home stand, ending with senior night against Cumberland (Tenn.) University on Nov. 2.