2013 conference tournament champion: Seattle
Offensive Player of the Year: Miguel Gonzalez, Seattle
Defensive Player of the Year: Scott Luedtke, CSU Bakersfield
Freshman of the Year: Kyle Bjornethun, Seattle
Coach of the Year: Pete Fewing, Seattle
Team (2013 overall, conference record)
Incarnate Word (6-8-1)*
Utah Valley University**
*= first year in WAC
**=first year of Division I men's soccer
The WAC went through quite a change in the offseason. CSU Bakersfield head coach Simon Tobin went out to the coast and took over the San Jose State program. After a successful stint with the Roadrunners, there are high expectations for what Tobin will do with San Jose in 2014 and moving forward.
With the change in the coaching staff, some of the best players for Bakersfield also moved on, with UC Irvine picking up talented midfielders Mario Ortiz and Eduardo Calzada. The cupboard is a bit bare for new Bakersfield head coach Richie Grant. The former Memphis coach brings quite the pedigree to the program, and he will likely keep Bakersfield in the hunt for the WAC title for years to come.
The Roadrunners are trying to track down Seattle, which flourished under head coach Pete Fewing last season. Fewing’s clear vision for the program has Seattle looking like the team to beat in the WAC. He will need to replace Miguel Gonzalez, who led the team in goals and assists last season.
UNLV also figures to be in the hunt this season. After a third place finish in 2013, the Rebels will look for senior forward Salvador Bernal to cap his stellar collegiate career with a conference crown. Local boy Danny Musovski joins UNLV this season as a freshman, which is welcome help for Bernal in the attack. Musovski is one of the most prolific scorers in high school soccer history.
Air Force is looking to bounce back after a relative down year in 2013. The Falcons return eight starters from that squad, but two of the three starters that graduated were all-conference members.
Houston Baptist and UMKC are both looking to climb up the table in 2014. HBU’s Tobenna Uzo is hoping to build off a successful freshman season where he scored 11 goals in 18 matches. Uzo is one of nine international players on the 2014 HBU roster. UMKC will depend on local product Jordan Rideout to continue to lead the charge for the Roos in his senior season. Rideout was first time all-conference in 2013 after scoring seven goals.
Incarnate Word and Grand Canyon continue to build their programs in 2014. The San Antonio program enters its first season in the WAC this fall. Grand Canyon enters this season with a quite a bit more talent on the roster than it had last year. The WAC also adds Utah Valley this season, as the Wolverines begin their first season as a Division I program. The 18-memeber freshman class for Greg Maas' debut campaign should make for an exciting season.
Missouri Valley Conference
2013 conference tournament champion: Bradley
Player of the Year: Wojciech Wojcik, Bradley
Defensive Player of the Year: James Fawke, Missouri State
Goalkeeper of the Year: John Berner, SIUE(M)
Freshman of the Year: Christian Okeke, Bradley
Coaching Staff of the Year: Missouri State
Team (2013 overall, conference record)
Missouri State enjoyed a stellar league campaign in 2013, but a loss to Bradley in the MVC championship meant an abrupt end to the season for the Bears. Missouri State returns MVC Defensive Player of the Year James Fawke for his senior campaign this fall. The Bears will need his leadership now that goalkeeper Trevor Spangenberg graduated.
Drake returns six starters from last season as it tries to track down the Bears at the top of the conference. The Bulldogs also brought in 12 new players for the fall to help fill the void.
Bradley snagged the lone spot to the NCAA tournament via the conference championship after finishing third in the regular season. The Braves should be competitive again this fall, but need to replace conference player of the year Wojciech Wojcik.
SIUE and Evansville both bring back talented rosters for 2014. SIUE heads into the season with new coaches as Scott Donnelly left for a position with U.S. Soccer. David Korn and Brian Jones replaced Donnelly as co-head coaches for 2014. Matt Polster and Christian Volesky are two of the best in the conference and should lead the SIUE squad this fall. Evansville is also looking at a fairly impressive returning roster. Midfielder Faik Hajderovic is one of the best in the nation and should help the Purple Aces contend for a top spot in the conference.