Ahead of its first season as a member of the Sun Belt Conference, West Virginia’s men’s soccer team has been chosen as the league’s preseason favorite.
The Mountaineers received five of nine-first place votes and accumulated 75 points to narrowly edge Marshall as the Sun Belt’s top projected team.
West Virginia finished 12-3-6 last season and advanced to the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Thundering Herd garnered 72 points and three first-place votes.
A year ago, Marshall followed up a national championship season by finishing 11-4-3 and qualifying for the NCAA Tournament, before bowing out in the opening round with a loss to Providence.
Kentucky, which boasts the Sun Belt’s two preseason individual award winners, was chosen No. 3 with 69 points and one first-place vote.
The Wildcats’ Eythor Bjorgolfsson was selected offensive player of the year, while teammate Luis Grassow is the league’s defensive player of the year.
South Carolina is projected fourth with 41 points, while Coastal Carolina and James Madison are slotted in a two-way tie for fifth place with 39 points apiece.
The Sun Belt’s preseason poll is rounded out by Georgia State (35) at seven, Old Dominion (20) at eight and Georgia Southern (15) at No. 9.
WVU defender Bjarne Thiesen was one of 12 players chosen to the preseason all-conference team, which featured a quartet of Marshall players: Goalkeeper Oliver Semmle, forward Milo Yosef, midfielder Vinicius Fernandes and defender Gabriel Alves.
The preseason poll and league honors are voted upon by the league’s nine head coaches.
West Virginia and Marshall both begin their regular seasons on Thursday, August 25. The Mountaineers welcome Robert Morris, while Marshall plays host to VCU.
The Mountaineers and Thundering Herd are set to meet Saturday, September 24 in Huntington.
2022 Sun Belt Conference Men’s Soccer Preseason Coaches Poll
1. West Virginia – 75 (5)
2. Marshall – 72 (3)
3. Kentucky – 69 (1)
4. South Carolina – 41
T-5. Coastal Carolina – 39
T-5. James Madison – 39
7. Georgia State – 35
8. Old Dominion – 20
9. Georgia Southern – 15
2022 Men’s Soccer Preseason All-Conference Team*
Alvaro Garcia-Pascual, Coastal Carolina (So., F – Benalmadena, Spain)
Luca Erhardt, James Madison (RS Sr., F – Offenbach, Germany)
Eythor Bjorgolfsson, Kentucky (Sr., F – Jessheim, Norway)
Milo Yosef, Marshall (RS Sr., F – Aachen, Germany)
Ross Finnie, Georgia State (Sr., M – Carnoustie, Scotland)
Rodrigo Robles, James Madison (RS Jr., M – Burgos, Spain)
Vinicius Fernandes, Marshall (Gr., M – Sao Paulo, Brazil)
Luis Grassow, Kentucky (Sr., D – Munich, Germany)
Robert Screen, Kentucky (5th Yr., D – Raleigh, N.C.)
Gabriel Alves, Marshall (Jr., D – Sao Paulo, Brazil)
Bjarne Thiesen, West Virginia (RS Jr., D – Kiel, Germany)
Oliver Semmle, Marshall (Gr., GK – Au Am Rhein, Germany)
* Team Expanded Due to Ties in Voting