Men’s OVC, Big South, SoCon, & WAC Previews

Men’s OVC, Big South, SoCon, & WAC Previews
by Victor Olorunfemi
August 23, 2023

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The TDS college soccer preview continues with a look into the men’s OVC, Big South, SoCon, & WAC conferences.

Ohio Valley Conference Preview

Newly formed conferences are a rarity, a blank slate to develop new history and rivalries. It could not come at a better time either, with all eight teams in the league finishing last season with a losing record, near the bottom of the standings in their respective conferences. But each team has taken steps in the right direction, particularly Lindenwood and new head coach Kris Bertsch who brings in 20+ new players to the program, ranging from highly recruited Freshmen to talented transfers. Whatever happens with the OVC season will set the template for a promising future.

*Chicago State, Eastern Illinois, Houston Christian, Incarnate Word, Liberty, Lindenwood, SIUE, and Southern Indiana formulate the newly created OVC.

Top Freshmen to Watch:

Stephen Saladin, SIUE (#11 Ranked TDS Heartland Region)

Jake Pollock, Eastern Illinois (#14 Ranked TDS Heartland Region)

Lucas Kelly, Liberty (#19 Ranked TDS South Atlantic Region)

Connor Lovell, Lindenwood (#20 Ranked TDS Heartland Region)

Ryan Okerayi, Houston Christian

Top Players to Watch:

Sam Eccles, Eastern Illinois

D'Alessandro Herrera, Houston Christian

Luke Eberle, Liberty

Anis Smajlovic, Lindenwood

Nick Faddis, Southern Indiana

Big South Conference Preview

High Point and Campbell have pushed one another to new peaks, with one of the two winning each regular season conference title since 2017. That makes Campbell leaving for the CAA even worse, as iron sharpens iron, and High Point is now without its best conference foe. Fortunately, that presents an opportunity for someone else to step up and rise to the challenge. In the meantime, High Point brings in a few highly talented transfers and the 16th-ranked recruiting class in the country, ideal for another NCAA tournament run.

*Campbell leaves the Big South to join the Coastal Athletic Association

Top Freshmen to Watch:

Dzenan Cerimagic, USC Upstate (Bosnia U19 National Team)

Anthony Ramirez, High Point (#106 Ranked TDS Class of 2023)

Alex Walker, Presbyterian (#23 Ranked TDS South Atlantic Region)

Max Fisher, Gardner-Webb

Jackson Minneci, UNC Asheville

Top Players to Watch:

Noah Holmes, High Point

Odal Brown, Gardner-Webb

Jeremy Montero, USC Upstate

Nile Nguidjol, Presbyterian

Sam Pitts-Eckersall, UNC Asheville

Southern Conference Preview

UNC Greensboro seemingly came out of nowhere to dominate the conference, advancing to the NCAA quarterfinals last season. But it will not be easy to maintain that position as Furman brings in the 19th-ranked recruiting class in the country, while Mercer and coach Brad Ruzzo come equipped with knowledge of what it takes to win a conference tournament and earn an automatic bid. Be on the Lookout for a league that could receive an at-large bid.

Top Freshmen to Watch:

Diego Hernandez, Furman (#57 Ranked TDS Class of 2023)

Brayden Keenan, UNC Greensboro (#159 Ranked TDS Class of 2023)

Lucas Nordin, East Tennessee State (Gatorade Tennessee POTY)

Jack Rodelli, Wofford (#18 Ranked TDS South Atlantic Region)

Barzee Blama, Mercer (#24 Ranked TDS South Atlantic Region)

Top Players to Watch:

Kieran Richards, East Tennessee State

Sekou Agard, Mercer

Emmanuel Hagan, UNC Greensboro

Jack Raine, Furman

Nikolai Rojel, Wofford

Western Athletic Conference Preview

The WAC has had many eras just in the last decade, with separate programs taking their turn to dominate. The latest is as even as it has ever been as the Grand Canyon era of dominance ends, and programs like Air Force, San Jose State, Seattle, Utah Valley, and California Baptist head into the season with the full belief they could be the team to win the conference crown.

*Houston Christian leaves the Western Athletic Conference to join the Ohio Valley Conference.

Top Freshmen to Watch:

Trevor Walk, Utah Valley (#118 Ranked TDS Class of 2023)

Emanuel Martinez, Grand Canyon (Honduras U20 National Team)

Enrique Guerrero-Menendez, Seattle (#15 Ranked TDS Pacific Northwest Region)

Drew Hardin, California Baptist (#15 Ranked TDS Florida Region)

Gilberto Rivera, San Jose State

Top Players to Watch:

Thaddaeus Dewing, Air Force

Thomas Beecham, California Baptist

David Sweeney, San Jose State

Leon Olacio, Utah Valley

Innocent Jibril Rodey, Grand Canyon

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