Dave Wagner: Freedom Newspapers
RICHARDSON, Texas — Eastern New Mexico University’s soccer teams were picked for seventh place in the men’s Southwest Soccer Conference and the women’s Lone Star Conference in preseason polls released Wednesday by the conferences’ soccer office.
Both races were close at the top. Midwestern State collecte seven of 17 first-place votes and 119 in the SSC to edge Incarnate Word (six and 118) and Northeastern State (three and 106) for the top spot, while Central Oklahoma’s 11 first-place votes and 214 points nipped Texas A&M-Commerce (eight and 213) and West Texas A&M (five and 205) in women’s voting.
In the 10-team LSC, ENMU’s women were picked fifth on two ballots and finished with 89 points, eight behind sixth-place East Central. The Zias, entering their third season, were 9-9-2 overall and 2-5-2 in the LSC in 2004, falling one point short of qualifying for the six-team conference postseason tournament.
Third-year Zias coach Travis McCorkle said the women’s poll came out about the way he thought it would.
“It’s always an exact reflection of how the teams finished in the standings the previous year,” he said.
While he didn’t differ much from the poll in his own projections, McCorkle acknowledged a .500-or-less season for his squad this year would be a significant disappointment. The Zias play 11 of 19 matches on their home field, where they were 5-1-1 in 2004.
“We definitely want to get into double-digit wins,” McCorkle said. “We want to get into the (LSC tournament), and then see if we can move up from there.”
ENMU’s men went 6-12-2 (3-10-1 SSC) in their first year of competition last fall. The Greyhounds were picked as high as fourth in the eight-team SSC on one ballot, and tallied 37 total points to edge out last-place Missouri Southern.
Midwestern finished third in the SSC a year ago, but returns five starters including top defender Greg Daley and leading scorer Jimmy Krueger. The Indians allowed just 16 goals in 18 games last year and recorded 10 shutouts.
Meantime, Incarnate Word graduated seven starters off a team which finished 18-4-1 and advanced to the NCAA Division II quarterfinals.
UCO’s women come into the season as the defending LSC champions, their third title in five years. The Bronchos have posted a 108-37-5 record in the program’s seven-year history.