The Missouri State men’s soccer team was picked second in the 2012 Missouri Valley Conference Preseason Coaches’ Poll, which the league office released Tuesday (Aug. 14). The Bears received three first-place votes in the preseason poll and were ranked behind 2011 MVC Tournament champion and NCAA semifinalist Creighton.
The Bluejays collected four first-place votes and 46 points overall to lead the voting. With the remaining three first-place votes, Missouri State claimed second with 38 points, followed by Bradley (34), SIU Edwardsville (27), Drake (21), Evansville (18) and Central Arkansas (12).
“Polls are always interesting, especially in preseason because nobody has played a game yet,” said head coach Jon Leamy. “However, it is nice to get some recognition and apparently some other coaches in our league felt good about our team. We feel great about our team.”
Under Leamy, the MSU men captured a share of the 2011 MVC regular-season title with a 5-1 mark in conference play and their first-ever win over a top-five opponent, taking down then-No. 4 Creighton at Plaster Field on Oct. 12.
“As all the fans know, we just have to prove it every day, every practice and every game,” Leamy added. “Ultimately, it’s the end we’re preparing for and hopefully at the end of the season, we’re standing strong in the conference and nationally too.”
The MVC also announced its 2012 Preseason All-MVC team as voted on by the conference’s head coaches. Perennial league power Creighton led the way with four athletes on the list, while Missouri State was represented by sophomore defender Andrew Turner.
After missing the first three games of his freshman season, Turner played the center back position in the remaining 16 matches and led all freshmen with 14 starts. The 2011 MVC All-Freshman team selection was a key contributor on Bears’ defensive unit that limited opponents to just 10 goals in its final 15 matches.
“Andrew really led and directed a lot of our defense last year,” Leamy said of the Bears’ lone preseason all-conference pick. “It is neat to see him recognized by the coaches. On the other hand, we think we’re going to have some other players who will join him on that list and stand out as the season goes on.”
Missouri State will open its 2012 slate on Tuesday evening with an exhibition match on the road against Tulsa. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
2012 MVC Preseason Coaches’ Poll
1. Creighton – 46 (4)
2. Missouri State – 38 (3)
3. Bradley – 34
4. SIU Edwardsville – 27
5. Drake – 21
6. Evansville – 18
7. Central Arkansas – 12
*Parentheses indicate first-place votes
2012 Preseason All-MVC Team
Brian Billings, Bradley
Bruno Castro, Creighton
Garrett Crall, Drake
Jose Gomez, Creighton
Jochen Graf, Bradley
Benny Jeffrey, SIU Edwardsville
Eric Miller, Creighton
Ethan Miller, Central Arkansas
Matt Polster, SIU Edwardsville
Andrew Ribiero, Creighton
Jesse Sharp, Evansville
Matt Taphorn, Central Arkansas
Andrew Turner, Missouri State
The Bears are in Edwardsville, IL on Friday evening for an exhibition match against Missouri Valley member SIU-Edwardsville where they will face off against former Glendale player Devin Newport, a midfield starter for the Cougars. Game time is 7:00 pm. The two teams will play again on October 13th at Edwardsville in a Conference game. Ole will be on hand to cover the match, follow him on Twitter for game updates. Photos and game report will follow.