ST. LOUIS - Only eight points separated the top three teams in the 2012 St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) Men's Soccer Pre-Season Coaches' Poll. Fontbonne University grabbed the top spot with 58 total points and two first place votes. Defending tournament champion, Greenville College, was chosen to finish second with 54 points and two first place votes. Westminster College received a total of four first place votes, but only amassed 50 points to place third in the poll.
Fontbonne will be well-armed on the attack with forwards Josh Schulz and Jordan Flack, and midfielder Charlie Chafin all returning to the lineup. Schulz, a junior, tallied six goals and six assists for a total of 18 points in conference games and earned 2012 SLIAC Player of the Year honors. Flack, a sophomore, had six goals and three assists, while also earning 2012 SLIAC Co-Newcomer of the Year and Honorable Mention All-SLIAC. Chafin, a senior, led the Griffins in assists last season with eight total on the season and was also Second Team All-Conference. In addition to the arsenal of returning players, head coach Brian Hoener will be looking for immediate contributions from junior transfer Zach Schucardt in the backfield and freshman Jamie McInnes in the midfield.
Greenville was last year's pre-season favorite but went on to finish third in the regular season with a record of 6-2-0. The Panthers defeated Fontbonne 1-0 in overtime in the semifinals of the conference tournament and Webster University 1-0 to capture their second consecutive tournament championship, including their third in four years. Greenville will be under the guidance of first-year head coach, Bobby McColl, but will also have the veteran leadership of seniors Nathan Mayberry (2012 First Team), Matt Cowman (2012 Honorable Mention) and junior Jakob Krisher, as they look to repeat and build on their success from last season.
Defending regular season champion, Westminster, went unbeaten in conference play last season at 7-0-1, but went on to lose a 1-0 decision to Webster University in the conference tournament semifinals. The Blue Jays will look toward senior midfielder, Adam Ross, and junior forward, RJ Moore, to provide the leadership needed to build on the successes of last season.
Webster placed fourth in the pre-season poll and could have the personnel to take them back to the SLIAC Tournament Championship game. The Gorloks, who finished 4-3-1 in the SLIAC last year, lost only two starters to graduation and have nine seniors to lead the way this season. Senior defender, Josh Sellmeyer, was Webster's lone First Team All-SLIAC selection last season and returns as the anchor in the backfield. Clint Carder, a senior forward, was named Honorable Mention All-Conference in 2011 and also earned Player of the Year honors as a sophomore, while Kyle Leonard, a senior midfielder, was Second Team All-SLIAC.
Principia College and Blackburn College placed fifth and sixth respectively in the pre-season poll, with only one point separating the two. Principia finished 5-10-2 overall and 3-4-1 in the conference last season, while Blackburn was 12-6-0 overall and 4-4-0 in SLIAC play.
MacMurray was chosen to finish seventh by the league coaches after finishing just behind Principia last season at 3-5-0 in conference play. The Highlanders return Honorable Mention All-SLIAC defender Connor Winking, a sophomore, along with fellow sophomores Brad Wise (8 goals, 7 assists) and Cody Cook (5 goals, 11 assists) in the midfield. Eureka College placed eighth in the pre-season poll has a range of experience returning to the field. Sophomore goalkeeper, Tyler Mumm, will be one of the Red Devils to watch, along with junior transfer Todd Sluder in the midfield. Spalding University rounded out the coaches poll and returns senior forward, Drew Kapfhammer, and junior midfielder, Matt Hegele. The Golden Eagles will also have sophomore Colin Peters back on the pitch. Peters was sidelined due to injury for part of 2011, but he is poised for a breakout sophomore season.
2012 SLIAC Men's Soccer
Pre-Season Coaches' Poll
1 - Fontbonne (2)
2 - Greenville (2)
3 - Westminster (4)
4 - Webster
5 - Principia
6 - Blackburn
7 - MacMurray
8 - Eureka
9 - Spalding