Defending Tournament Champion SIUE Picked To
Published: August 20, 2015
ST. LOUIS – Defending MVC Tournament champion SIUE has been tabbed as the team to beat in the 2015 MVC men’s soccer chase in a vote conducted by league coaches. The Cougars received 42 points and three first-place votes in the poll to out-distance Missouri State (39 points, three first-place votes) and Loyola (38 points).
The Valley finished the 2014 season with a league RPI of No. 18, including five teams in the top-150 – Missouri State (No. 76), SIUE (No. 108), Loyola (No. 130), Bradley (No. 142) and Evansville (No. 144).
The foundation is in place as league teams return 46 starters (60-percent), including six first-team all-conference players, three who earned second-team accolades, nine honorable mention selections and all 11 members of the all-freshman team.
SIUE, fresh off its first ever MVC Tournament title, returns eight starters from last year’s 8-9-4 (4-1-1 MVC) squad, and will be under the direction of first-year head coach Mario Sanchez. Offensively, the Cougars will rely heavily on senior Jabari Danzy, the Cougar's top returning goal scorer from a season ago (five goals), and seniors Justin Bilyeu (2 goals, 3 assists), Garet Christianson (3 goals, 2 assists) and Paul Scheipeter (1 goal, 2 assists). Bilyeu was a second-team all-conference pick last season, while Christianson was an honorable mention selection in 2014. On defense, SIUE welcomes back several key cogs in its backline, including juniors Andrew Kendall-Moullin (4 assists) and Austin Ledbetter (1 assist), both honorable mention all-MVC performers last season, as well as seniors Brett Lane (2 goals) and Jacob Wieser.
Missouri State returns five starters from a 2014 squad that finished 9-5-4 (4-0-2 MVC) and won back-to-back regular-season MVC championships for the first time in program history. The Bears welcome back one of the top offensive players in the league in senior Emmerich Hoegg (7 goals, 1 assist), a first team all-conference selection last season. Seniors James Thomas (2 goals, 3 assists) and Brandon Barbero (1 goal, 3 assists) also return to the field for Missouri State. On the defensive side of the ball, the Bears welcome back sophomore Robbie Oslica (1 goal, 1 assist) and junior midfielder Jack Griffin (1 assist). Both Barbero and Griffin were honorable mention all-MVC performers last season, while Oslica was a member of the league's all-freshman team in 2014.
Loyola welcomes back eight starters after finishing 2014 with a record of 8-6-5 (2-2-2 MVC) and winning its first-ever MVC Tournament game. The Ramblers will be led offensively by sophomores Elliot Collier (4 goals, 2 assists), Kyle Thomson (2 goals) and Brody Kraussel (5 assists). Collier was a second team all-MVC pick last season, while Thomson was the Valley's Freshman of the Year and Kraussel was a member of the all-freshman team. Seniors Ryan Howe (2 goals) and Ben Crognale (1 goal) and junior Kirill Likhovid (1 goal, 2 assists) will also add to mix offensively for Loyola. On the defensive side of the ball, the Ramblers return first team all-conference performer Eric Schoendorf and fellow senior Daniel Hare, while senior Tim Dobrowolski (59 saves, 0.78 GAA, 8 shutouts), the 2014 MVC Goalkeeper of the Year, will be the final stop in the Loyola lineup.
Bradley returns six starters from last season's 9-11 (1-5 MVC) squad, including four players who scored three or more goals in 2014, but the Braves also will be looking to mesh a league-high 16 freshmen into the mix in 2015. Senior Grant Bell began making the transition from Bradley's back line to the top of the attack last season and he is expected to spearhead the team's offensive effort this year after recording four goals and five assists as a second-team All-MVC pick as a junior. An honorable mention All-MVC pick last year, senior Andrew Brown (3 goals, 3 assists) will continue to work the midfield, while 2014 all-freshman selection Jacob Taylor (3 goals, 3 assists) should lead the defensive effort while continuing to make Bradley's restarts dangerous. A fourth-year junior, Logan Ketterer will man the pipes this year after posting a 7-7 record with a 1.00 goals against average and .800 saves percentage in 2014.
Drake welcomes back nearly its entire starting lineup from a 2014 squad that finished 5-11-3 (3-3 MVC). The Bulldogs return nine players that scored goals last season and will be led offensively by junior James Wypych (5 goals, 4 assists), senior Alec Bartlett (2 goals, 2 assists), junior Ben LeMay (2 goals, 2 assists) and sophomore Steven Enna (3 goals). Wypych and Bartlett were both first team all-MVC selections in 2014, while Enna was on the league's all-freshman team a season ago. Seniors Eric Williams (2 goals, 1 assist) and Alex Troester (1 goal, 3 assists), junior Mueng Sunday (1 goal, 1 assist) and sophomore Mason Leonard (1 goal, 1 assist) will also add to the offensive punch. Defensively, Drake returns junior James Grunert and seniors Kyle Whigham and Austin Reutzel, while junior goalkeeper Darrin MacLeod also returns between the pipes for the Bulldogs.
Evansville welcomes back just two starters from last season’s 6-11-1 (4-2 MVC) team, and will be under the direction of first year head coach Marshall Ray, who has been a part of the Purple Aces' coaching staff since 2006. Evansville will be led offensively by senior forward Mark Anthony Gonzalez (6 goals, 3 assists), a two-time first team all-MVC honoree. Junior forward Jared Robinson (1 goal, 1 assist), senior forward Nate Opperman (2 assists) and sophomore midfielder/defender Ian McGrath (1 goal), a member of the 2014 all-freshman team, will also add to the offensive punch for the Purple Aces. On the back half of the field, Evansville also returns senior defender Vince DiPrimio and sophomore defender Chris Shuck.
Central Arkansas brings back seven starters from last season’s 3-13-1 (0-5-1 MVC) squad that looks to return to the MVC Tournament for the first time since 2012. The Bears return seven players that scored at least one goal last season, and will be led by junior Wes Carson (2 goals), sophomore Pepe San Roman (2 goals, 1 assist) and sophomore William Woody (1 goal, 2 assists). Sophomore Blake Stricker (1 goal, 1 assist) and Colton Jackson (1 goal, 1 assist) and junior Alejandro Moquete (2 goals) will also add to the Bears' scoring attack. Defensively, junior Jordan Bates and sophomore Tyler Ridener will anchor the Central Arkansas back line and will be joined by juniors Dylan Brog and Brandon Wilde. Sophomore goalkeeper Harrison Veith (58 saves, 1.83 GAA), a member of the league's all-freshman team in 2014, also returns to the net for the Bears.
The 2015 regular-season campaign begins the last weekend in August, with all seven teams in non-conference action. SIUE will host the 2015 MVC Championship, Nov. 11, 13 and 15, in Edwardsville, Ill., where the league's top-six teams will battle it out for the Valley's automatic bid to the 2015NCAA Tournament.