For the second consecutive year the Westminster College men's soccer team are the favorites to win the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC), as voted on by the league's 10 head coaches. Westminster received 79 total points in the poll including seven first-place votes with Webster University and Spalding University tying for second in the poll.
Westminster, led by third year head coach Andrew Bordelon, will be seeking its third consecutive NCAA Division III tournament appearance after winning the previous two SLIAC Tournaments. The Blue Jays, who finished 11-8-1 overall, and 7-1-1 in conference play last season, return eight starters from last year's squad including a pair of two-time First Team All-Conference members in junior forward Drew Cook and senior defender Daryl Doran. Also among the returners are junior midfielder Tripp Sheehan, who led the conference in assists, and sophomore forward Dustin Seibolt, the 2014 SLIAC Newcomer of the Year. Junior Raul Romero is back once again in net after earning First Team All-Conference honors. Among the newcomers seeking time in the lineup will be transfers Peter Plakorus, Eli Sherman, and Cooper Smith.
Webster and Spalding tied for second place in the preseason poll with 69 total points as Webster captured two first-place votes and Spalding picked up one first-place vote. Webster is coming off a 10-9-2 overall record last year and have claimed at least a share of the SLIAC regular season title for three straight seasons. Head Coach Mike Siener will need to find the right mix between returners and newcomers in order to capture a fourth title. The Gorloks will rely on a core of upper classman to fill in the seven open starting spots on the team. Back for the Gorloks are senior midfielder Ramon Perez and junior forward Brendan Shields, each of whom were named All-Conference last season. The defense will be led by senior Daniel Tovar, who picked up All-Tournament honors last fall. A total of 21 players including five transfers will join the squad of 20 returnees.
Spalding made their first ever trip to the SLIAC Tournament last year, finishing the season 12-6-1 overall. Head Coach Adam Boyer returns six starters and 15 players from last year's team including one of the top playmakers in the league in senior midfielder Julio De Leon. De Leon is a three time First Team All-Conference performer had has recorded double digit assists in each of his first three seasons. Joining on the attack will be All-Conference performers Joey Lesher and Abdullahi Abdullahi. The Golden Eagles defense will be anchored by senior Trevor Bruner and goalkeeper Logan Spencer. A pair of freshmen, Jacob Kirby and Zach Fonda, should see some playing time while sophomore transfer Dyllin Albright will add to the team's depth.
Fontbonne University was picked fourth in the poll, receiving 54 total points. The Griffins will be coached by Ricky Andrews, who spent last year as the Associate Head Coach for both the Fontbonne men's and women's soccer teams. The Griffins were 8-14 overall last season but finished 6-3 in conference play, claiming a spot in the SLIAC Tournament. They return 14 players and five starters including a pair of All-Conference members in senior defender Devin Arand, First Team, and sophomore midfielder Alex Phillips, Second Team. The Griffins also return Alex Platipodis, who earned All-Tournament honors last season, and a pair of upper classmen, Nathan Spiess and Alex Smith. Fontbonne will look to freshmen Matthew Rapisardo and Brendan Kopff as well as junior transfer Matthew Keys to battle for positions.
Greenville College finished fifth in the poll with 51 total points. The Panthers went 10-8-1 overall last year, finishing 6-3 in the SLIAC, and bring back 13 players including six starters. Head coach Chris Swift will lean on his defensive scheme, which allowed a league low 15 goals last year, once again with defenders Richie Hershkowitz and Josh Ripperger leading the way. Senior forward Dillon Czech also returns after finishing with three goals and three assists last season. The Panthers will have to replace All-Conference goalie Thomas Crown who recorded five shutouts. Joining the program are a pair of freshman midfielders, Edgar Bueno and Jonny Madrid.
Principia College placed sixth in the poll after going 6-11-1 overall and 4-4-1 in the SLIAC. The Panthers have a familiar face taking over the program in Jess Semnacher. Semnacher was head coach of the Principia women's team the last four years and now will assume the same position with the men's program. Principia returns five starters and 15 players from last year's team including senior midfielder Kevin Silcox and sophomores Victor de Castro and David Bader. The Panthers will need to counter the losses of All-Conference performers Nate Waters, Leif Carlson, and McGuire Semnacher.
Blackburn College was picked seventh in the poll after going 6-13 overall and 2-7 in the SLIAC last season. The Beavers bring back 11 players and five starters. Head Coach Rob Steinkuehler will count on the duo of Mikey Stephenson and Lucas Rinderer to lead the offensive attack. Stephenson finished with five goals and five assists while Rinderer added six goals. The back line will be anchored by Nate Kinnison and Brandon Smith who will be playing in front of a new keeper after the graduation of Shane Rogers. Newcomers Pietro Lentini, Steven Njuba, and Daniel Nguepnang should see time on the pitch.
MacMurray College was chosen eighth after going 4-13 overall and 3-6 in the SLIAC. The Highlanders will be under the direction of first year head coach John Mansholt, who returns eight players and three starters. Seniors Andy Alvarez, a midfielder, and Miles Money, a defender, will be counted on to provide leadership. Jacob Lee, Tyler Marfo, and Bryce Oberg, a trio of sophomores who saw plenty of action last season will be counted on to use that experience this year. Newcomers Drew Buescher, Peter Norton, and Roymell Long will compete for playing time as well.
Iowa Wesleyan University finished with 15 points and was picked ninth. The Tigers welcome in new head coach Dan Montanye and bring back two starters from last year's team that was 0-14 overall. Coming back are junior goalkeeper Mitchell Schneider, who led the conference in saves last season, and sophomore defender Jimmy Jestus, who started all 14 games as a true freshman. Joining the program will be several quality freshmen including Josue Nicolas, Ivan Bello-Ponce, and Matthew Beilman.
Eureka College rounds out the 2015 poll finishing 10th after receiving 13 total points. Eureka went 1-16 overall and 1-8 in the SLIAC last season. They will once again be coached by Dwain Barker, in his second year, and bring back seven players from last year's squad. Barker has had a busy off-season as he brings in 15 newcomers.