RICHARDSON, Texas — If their conference preseason polls are to be believed, Eastern New Mexico University’s soccer teams have their work cut out this fall.
The second-year women’s program is projected to finish ninth in the 10-team Lone Star Conference race. The Zias were 3-12-2 last year in their inaugural campaign, including 2-6 for ninth place in the LSC.
Meantime, the first-year men’s program was picked for last place in the new eight-team Southwest Soccer Conference, comprised of four LSC teams, three Heartland Conference squads and one Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association contingent.
West Texas A&M earned the women’s nod in the LSC race with 11 first-place votes and 230 points, followed by Texas A&M-Commerce (8 and 218) and Central Oklahoma (4 and 205).
The Zias were picked as high as fifth on one of the 25 ballots cast by coaches, sports information directors and media representatives. They finished with 56 points, 12 ahead of Southwestern Oklahoma.
WT returns seven starters from a team which beat Commerce in the league tournament finals last season and went on to post a 15-4-2 record, including sophomore conference preseason player of the year Sarit Shenar. Her league-leading 21 goals including the only tally in the Lady Buffs’ 1-0 win over Commerce in the tournament finals.
Midwestern State earned 10 of 19 first-place votes in the SSC poll to edge past Incarnate Word, which had seven first-place votes and 132 points. ENMU was picked seventh on four ballots and eighth on the other 15 votes for 23 points.
MSU defeated UIW 1-0 in last year’s Midwest Region title game, avenging a loss to the Cardinals earlier in the season. UIW forward Lubomir Bogdanov was the league’s preseason player of the year after helping the Cardinals to a 16-2-2 mark in 2003 with 13 goals and eight assists.
Travis McCorkle, who coached the ENMU women last season, will have double-duty this year as he will be in charge of both Eastern programs.