With their 2017 campaign just 17 days away, the Liberty men's soccer team has been picked third in the Big South Men's Soccer Preseason Poll. The conference announced the results of the poll earlier today.
In addition, junior forward Tresor Mbuyu has been selected as the Big South Preseason Men's Soccer Attacking Player of the Year.
Head Coach Jeff Alder's team received 52 votes in being selected third, as voted on by the league's head men's soccer coaches. Defending Big South Champion Radford was selected first in the poll, garnering seven first place votes and 79 points.
Meanwhile, Mbuyu edged High Point forward Siggi Benonysson and Longwood midfielder Dan Campos in voting for Preseason Attacking Player of the Year.
Radford's Fraser Colmer and High Point's Johnny Fenwick shared Big South Preseason Defensive Player of the Year honors.
The Flames enter 2017 with an experienced squad, looking to build upon last year's 7-9-2 overall and 4-3-1 Big South record, finishing fourth in the conference standings.
Mbuyu had quite a season in his first year as a Flame in 2016. The forward became the first Liberty player to be named the Big South Attacking Player of the Year and the second Flame in program history to be selected as a Big South Player of the Year. Current Liberty assistant coach Jose Gomez was named the Big South Player of the Year in 2000.
Mbuyu, who also earned all-conference and VaSID All-State first team honors, led the Big South with 29 points and tied for the conference lead with 10 goals. He finished the year second in the conference in assists with nine. The sophomore forward netted a point in 14 of Liberty's 18 games.
Mbuyu completed the year among the nation's top 20 players in goals and assists. His season-ending point total was the most by a Flame since Darren Amoo had 33 points in 2009. In addition, the Charlotte, N.C., native's nine assists tie him with 10 other Liberty players for fourth on the program's single season list.
Mbuyu will be joined by Big South All-Conference first team member Kevin Mendoza. The midfielder finished 2016 with 16 points on six goals and four assists to finish fifth in the league.
In addition, the Flames return defenders Nico Bellarde, Alex Dominguez, and Geovanny Murillo, along with goalkeeper James Knoebel, who started 16 of Liberty's 18 games in 2016.
Liberty begins practice for the upcoming season tomorrow and opens its 2017 season on Aug. 25 against the Southern Virginia Knights at Osborne Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. Liberty will begin Big South play on Sept. 26 at home against Gardner-Webb .
The Big South Men's Soccer Championship is scheduled for Tuesday-Sunday, Nov. 5, 8 and 12 at the site of the higher seeded team.
2017 Big South Men's Soccer Preseason Poll
1. Radford – 79 2. High Point - 69 3. Liberty – 52 4. Longwood – 45 T5. Campbell – 43 T5. Winthrop – 43 6. UNC Asheville – 35 7. Presbyterian – 27 8. Gardner-Webb – 12
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