FGCUAthletics.com
A-Sun Announces Preseason Men's Soccer Poll
Wednesday, August 13, 2008

MACON, Ga. – The FGCU men’s soccer team, who finished 8-10-1 (3-5-1 A-Sun) and are heading into their second year in the Atlantic Sun Conference, was picked to finish fifth in the preseason men’s soccer poll, the conference office announced on Wednesday.

The two Atlantic Sun men’s soccer programs that met for the conference championship in November could be on a collision course this year as the coaches picked Campbell as the preseason favorite with Jacksonville second, the conference office announced on Wednesday.

The Camels and Dolphins met in the final of the 2007 Championship with the Camels prevailing 5-4 in penalty kicks after the two squads battled to a 1-1 score after 90 minutes of regulation play and 30 minutes of overtime. While the Camels received top billing in the preseason vote for the third straight year, the Dolphins narrowly claimed the distinction as the coaches’ choice for tournament champion.

Campbell, along with Stetson, dominated the preseason All-Conference team as each placed four players on the team. Richard Jata led the charge from the Camels as he earned Preseason Player of the Year honors for the second straight year. The senior midfielder from Port Richey, Fla. landed on the A-Sun First Team and All-Tournament Team in 2007 after scoring nine goals, fourth in the A-Sun, including three during the A-Sun Championship. Since the start of the 2006 season, Campbell owns a 12-0-1 record in games when Jata tallies a goal.

Jata’s senior classmates, goal keeper Aaron Johnson and defender Stephen Oyuga along with 2007 Freshman of the Year, midfielder Josue Soto round out Campbell’s representation on the Preseason All-Conference team. Johnson, a decorated player in Campbell and A-Sun history, has been a First-Team performer each of the last two falls and enters 2008 with the fourth-lowest goals-against average in A-Sun history at 1.17. Oyuga earned spots on both the First Team and All-Tournament team in 2007. Soto matched Jata with 22 points (eight goals, six assists).

Stetson, picked third by the coaches matched Campbell with four All-Conference selections led by a pair of defenders in junior Robert Hodge and sophomore Miguel Rodrigues. Midfielder Kirk Labusch and sophomore forward Eugene Starikov join the defenders on the team. Labusch shared the conference lead in assists with seven and Starikov scored six goals, four of which proved to be game-winning goals.

Soto, Rodrigues and Starikov make up three of the five members of the 2007 Atlantic Sun All-Freshman team on the 2008 preseason All-Conference team. Starikov joins UNF’s Akil DeFreitas and Lipscomb’s Miguel DaSilva on the forward line. The final member of the squad, Jacksonville’s Tony Taylor, also a sophomore, transferred to the Dolphins from USF after collecting nine points with the Bulls. DaSilva ranked third in the A-Sun with 10 goals in 2007 while DeFreitas ranked as one of seven in the conference to average at least one point per game.

DeFreitas will lead UNF, picked fourth by the coaches, followed by a tight three-way battle between Florida Gulf Coast, Belmont and Lipscomb for the fifth, sixth and seventh spots in the poll. USC Upstate, Mercer, led by new head coach Brad Ruzzo and ETSU’s inaugural men’s team round out the poll.

The Atlantic Sun Conference is an 11-member league committed to Building Winners for Life, with a focus on academic and athletic integrity and a balance between the two for the student-athlete, and maintaining a high level of sportsmanship. Headquartered in Macon, Ga., the A-Sun encompasses six of the top eight media markets in the Southeast. The A-Sun consists of some of the most dynamic private and public institutions in the region: Belmont University, Campbell University, East Tennessee State University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Jacksonville University, Kennesaw State University, Lipscomb University, Mercer University, University of North Florida, University of South Carolina Upstate and Stetson University.

 

2008 Men’s Soccer Preseason Coach’s Poll

Rank

School (First Place Votes)

Votes

1.

Campbell  (7)

95

2.

Jacksonville  (2)

88

3.

Stetson  (1)

84

4.

UNF

57

5.

Florida Gulf Coast

49

6.

Belmont

48

7.

Lipscomb

47

8.

USC Upstate

28

T9.

ETSU

27

T9.

Mercer

27

Tournament Champion: Jacksonville