SPARTANBURG, S.C. (Aug. 18, 2016) –Senior Joao Ramalho (Monte Santo, Brazil) and junior Fletcher Ekern (Knoxville, Tenn.) were selected All- Southern Conference Team. The ETSU men’s soccer team was predicted to finish third for the 2016 season, which was announced by the league office on Thursday afternoon.
Striker Ramalho played in 15 matches with 13 starts in 2015. He was third on the team in goals (3) and tied for fourth in assists (2). Ramalho was also third in shots taken (50) and shots on goal (18). The 2014 SoCon Player of the Year tallied two game-winning goals against Kentucky and VMI last season and also scored the go-ahead goal in the season opener at Clemson.
The Brazil native earned countless awards two seasons ago, which include SoCon Player of the Week, College Sports Madness National Offensive Player of the Week, and College Soccer News National Player of the Week. With an injury-shortened season last year, Ramalho looks to return to the pitch to be an integral part for the Bucs as they setup for their season opener at High Point on Aug. 26.
Ekern, also a striker, earned 2015 First Team All-Conference honors last season. In 2015, he played in all 19 games with 18 starts as a forward. Ekern averaged 79 minutes per game and was ranked in several categories in the conference. He led the conference and team in scoring (10) and goals per game (0.53) last season while finishing second in the SoCon in points (23) and points per game (1.21). The Knoxville native will be an important part in the ETSU offensive plan this season.
The Preseason All-SoCon Team is as follows:
F Will Bagrou, Mercer
F Fletcher Ekern, ETSU
F Joao Ramalho, ETSU
F Damieon Thomas, UNCG
MF Leeroy Maguraushe, UNCG
MF Jordan Duru, Mercer
MF Eli Pinner, Furman
D Ian Antley, Mercer
D Nicholas Downs, UNCG
D Kyle McLagan, Furman
GK Jon Milligan, UNCG
The Bucs, who reached the SoCon Championship game in 2015, was picked to finish tied for third with Mercer. UNCG is projected to take the title this season after the Blue and Gold upset them in penalty kicks in the semi-finals and tying them twice in the regular season last year.
UNCG, last year’s regular season champ, is tabbed the preseason favorite.
The preseason coaches’ poll is as follows:
1. UNCG (3) 23
2. Furman (2) 21
T3. ETSU 16
T3. Mercer (1) 16
5. Wofford 9
6. VMI 5
() denotes first-place votes
The Bucs will finish preseason play at home against crosstown rivals Milligan College on Aug. 20 with kickoff set for 7 p.m. at Summers-Taylor Stadium.
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For more information on Buccaneer men’s soccer visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s soccer page.