Behind a strong five-win improvement from a 2-17 season in 2017 to a 7-12 mark in 2018, the Shawnee State men’s soccer program was able to collect a sixth-place showing in the Mid-South Conference Preseason Coaches Poll, which was released on Friday morning.
SSU, who collected 23 points in the MSC Poll en route to its sixth-place showing, edged Georgetown (Ky.) by one point in the poll to garner the spot. Pikeville, who posted 17 points, and new Mid-South member Thomas More, who will be in its first season in the NAIA after transitioning from the NCAA Division III ranks, collected 13 points to bring up the rear.
At the head of the pack, Lindsey Wilson, once more, claimed pole position in a Mid-South Conference Preseason Poll as the Blue Raiders, who finished 15-3-1 overall on the strength of a 6-1 overall conference mark in 2018, posted 60 points and grabbed four of the nine first-place votes available.
However, Lindsey Wilson certainly didn’t earn the spot with ease. In fact, the first four units in the poll were separated by just 15 total points, with Cumberland (Tenn.), who finished 10-5-4 and obtained a 6-0-1 overall mark in the MSC, amassing 59 points and four first-place votes of its own to finish just one point back of the Blue Raiders.
Cumberlands (Ky.), who garnered 48 points and the additional first-place vote, edged Campbellsville by three points as the latter posted 45. The Phoenix finished 7-5-3 last season, with a 4-2-1 conference mark, while the Tigers added in a 12-8 overall record, including a 5-2 showing in MSC play. Life (Ga.) led the rest of the field with 37 points as the Running Eagles’ 8-11-1 record and 3-4 MSC mark allowed the Marietta, Ga.-based institution to sit comfortably in fifth from a poll perspective.
Shawnee State begins its 2019 regular season with a matchup at Indiana University-East — who finished as the No. 16-ranked unit in the NAIA realm — on Saturday, Aug. 24 at 5 p.m. Home bouts with MSC foes Lindsey Wilson (Oct. 8, 7 p.m.), Cumberland (Tenn.) (Oct.12, 3 p.m.), along with games against Life (Ga.) (Oct. 30, 7 p.m.) and Cumberlands (Ky.) (Nov. 1, 7:30 p.m.) highlight the schedule.
Of the Bears’ 20 returnees, eight of those players started 10 or more games last season, including Kevin de Lange, who won MSC Freshman of the Year honors and was named to the All-MSC Second-Team list, Kade Tomlinson, who collected 132 saves in goal for Shawnee State last season, and local talents Bryce Romanello (16 goals and four assists for his career) and Aaron Keyser, who, along with Hunter Miles and Chris Jones, complete the four-man senior roster. Michael Rose, Mitchell Patchett, Jacob Perry, Alek Blevins, and Shane Zimmerman are among the stout returnees, who are joined by a 17-man recruiting class that is considered to be the best in program history by those inside the program. That class includes Rock Hill standout Victor Aguilera and Tiffin University transfer Eli Maurer, in addition to the talents of Wheelersburg’s Cameron Llewellyn among others.
For more information on all athletic programs inside the Shawnee State banner, visit www.ssubears.com.