SPARTANBURG, S.C. (Aug. 17, 2017) – The Southern Conference announced its men’s soccer preseason rankings and all-conference team Thursday afternoon, and ETSU left its mark with five all-conference selections and the top spot in the poll.
Coming off a season where the Bucs finished first place in regular season play before falling to Mercer in the SoCon championship game, the Bucs are slated as the favorites heading into 2017. The Bucs exceeded expectations last season, as they were picked third in the preseason.
The Bucs received four of a possible five first place votes and finished with 24 points. Mercer, last year’s conference tournament champion, received two first place votes and finished second with 22 points. UNCG (15), Furman (13), Wofford (11) and VMI (5) rounded out the preseason rankings.
Additionally, ETSU led the SoCon with five preseason all-conference selections out of 11 possible slots.
For the second straight season, senior forward Fletcher Ekern (Knoxville, Tenn.) received all conference preseason honors. Ekern is coming off a season where he led the team with nine goals and three game winners. He also had 46 shots with 20 shots on goal in 2016.
Joining Ekern on the team is fellow senior forward Cameron Woodfin (Old Hickory, Tenn.), junior goalkeeper Jonny Sutherland (Chester, U.K.), junior midfielder Serge Gomis (Dakar, Senegal) and sophomore defender Joe Pickering (East Sussex, England).
Woodfin led the entire NCAA last season with 12 assists on the season. The Bucs were 10-0 last season when Woodfin either scored or assisted on a goal at least once in the game. He finished the season with five goals.
Sutherland comes into his junior season fresh off the 2016 SoCon Goalkeeper of the Year award and a postseason first team all-SoCon selection. Sutherland finished the year with 70 saves and nine shutouts while only allowing 0.92 goals per game.
Gomis contributed to the Bucs’ success from the midfield, scoring three goals and pressuring keepers with 14 shots on target. All three of Gomis’ goals came in conference play, including one in the SoCon semifinals against UNCG.
Pickering is the reigning SoCon Freshman of the Year after scoring three goals on just five shots from the defensive position. The East Sussex, England native played 1845 minutes last season, the most of any freshman and the fourth highest total on the team.
The preseason coaches’ poll is as follows:
1. ETSU (4) 24
2. Mercer (2) 22
3. UNCG 15
4. Furman 13
5. Wofford 11
6. VMI 5
() denotes first-place votes
The Preseason All-SoCon Team is as follows:
F Will Bagrou, Mercer
F Fletcher Ekern, ETSU
F Cameron Woodfin, ETSU
MF Leeroy Maguraushe, UNCG
MF Serge Gomis, ETSU
MF Josiah Baker, Furman
MF Koby Perez, Mercer
D Connor Antley, Mercer
D Kyle McLagan, Furman
D Joe Pickering, ETSU
GK Jonny Sutherland, ETSU
All six SoCon coaches voted and were not allowed to select their own team or players.
The Bucs will finish preseason play on the road against UNC Asheville Saturday, August 19 at 7 p.m. The following week will mark the first game week for ETSU, as the team travels to Dayton August 25. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.
The Blue and Gold’s regular season home opener will take place August 29 at 7 p.m. against the Kentucky Wildcats.
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For more information on Buccaneer men’s soccer visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s soccer page.