Senior goalkeeper Scott Sutarik
The Liberty Flames men's soccer team has been picked to finish fifth in the Big South Conference's annual preseason poll, as voted on by the league's head men's soccer coaches.
The Flames received 58 points in being predicted by the panel to end the upcoming soccer season in fifth place in the conference standings.
Liberty welcomes back 10 players who saw significant playing time and advanced to the Big South Conference final, last season. The Flames posted an 11-9 overall record and a 5-5 mark in conference play.
Now in his 14th year leading his alma mater, head coach Jeff Alder will see the return of both of his team's two goalkeepers, Scott Sutarik, the lone senior on the Flames' roster, and Jeremy Lee. Alder will also see the return of midfielder and VaSID All-State team member, Sachem Wilson, Liberty's leading scorer in 2014, midfielder Blessing Tahouna, a two-year starter, and defender/midfielder Tim Harbison, who has started every game of his Liberty career.
Wilson compiled a career-high 23 points in 2014, the most by a Flame since 2010. The midfielder netted a career-high 10 goals and assisted on three during his sophomore campaign. The midfielder was not the only Flame to post career highs last season, as Harbison had career-highs in goals and points. Harbison netted five goals and added two assists to post a double-digit point total of 12 for the first time in a Liberty Flames uniform.
Liberty opens their 2014 season on August 29 at Osborne Stadium. The Flames will host Bluefield at 6 p.m. Liberty will begin Big South play on Sept. 27 against the Winthrop Eagles in Rock Hill, S.C.
The league's coaches selected defending champion Coastal Carolina to win the conference title in 2014. Ranked No. 17 in the NSCAA preseason poll, the Chanticleers collected seven first place votes and 96 points in being tabbed the preseason favorite. Coastal Carolina junior forward Ricky Garbanzo was tabbed the league's Preseason Attacking Player of the Year and teammate Shawn McLaws, a senior, was named the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year by the panel.
Winthrop and High Point tied for second place with 82 points. Winthrop received two first place votes. Campbell followed in fourth with the final first place vote and 65 points. Liberty was followed by Radford (48 points) and Gardner-Webb (43 points). Longwood (35 points), UNC Asheville (23 points) and Presbyterian (18 points) rounded out the poll.
The Big South Men's Soccer Championship is scheduled for Tuesday-Sunday, Nov. 11, 14 and 16 with the quarterfinals at host sites and the semifinals and finals at Bryan Park in Greensboro, N.C.
2014 Big South Conference Preseason Men's Soccer Poll
Team (1st-Place Votes)
Coastal Carolina (7)
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