The University of Connecticut was selected unanimously as the preseason favorite by league coaches for the American Athletic Conference men’s soccer inaugural season.
The Huskies have made 33 appearances in the NCAA Championship, including 15 consecutive trips under head coach Ray Reid, and are coming off a 17-4-1 finish last year.
University of South Florida senior defender Ben Sweat was chosen unanimously as the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year and was a unanimous selection to the Preseason All-Conference team. He has been named to College Soccer News’ Preseason All-American Third Team.
For the second-straight year, UConn junior goalkeeper Andre Blake was a unanimous selection for the Preseason Goalkeeper of the Year. Blake won BIG EAST Goalkeeper of the Year accolades after last season for the second-straight year. As a sophomore, Blake ranked #5 in the nation in goals-against average (0.53).
Connecticut senior forward Mamadou Doudou Diouf was selected as the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year for the second-straight year.
UConn begins the 2013 season at #5 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) preseason rankings.
Louisville advanced to the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Championship in 2012, marking the third straight season the Cardinals finished among the nation’s final eight squads. Louisville posted a 7-1-0 record in BIG EAST play. Senior forward Zack Foxhoven had five goals last year. Senior defender Daniel Keller started all 21 games.
USF was picked to finish third in the league after making its sixth consecutive trip to the NCAA Championship last season. The Bulls reached the second round of the tournament last year, getting edged by Tulsa 1-0. USF was 8-6-5 overall last year and will be led defensively by Sweat.
SMU was picked fourth after the Mustangs finished last season 10-5-5 and reached the NCAA Tournament. SMU tied Winthrop 1-1, but was eliminated from the NCAA Championship 3-1 on penalty kicks. Redshirt-junior Damian Rosales, a midfielder, was picked to the Preseason All-Conference team and will lead the Mustangs after playing in 18 games last year and dishing out three assists.
Rutgers returns 13 letterwinners and eight starters from last year’s squad. Among the returning Scarlet Knights are Second Team All-BIG EAST honoree and leading scorer Kene Eze and Second Team All-BIG EAST and All-Rookie selection Mael Corboz The Scarlet Knights finished last season 7-7-1.
Memphis was picked to finish sixth in the Preseason Coaches’ Poll. The Tigers finished last season 8-7-3 overall and 4-2-2 in conference play. Redshirt-senior Mark Sherrod recorded 12 goals and four assists for 28 points last year, earning Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year,
The University of Central Florida, picked by the coaches to finish seventh in the league, is coming off of an 8-7-3 campaign in 2012. Senior Omar Vallejo will lead UCF after handing out a team-high eight assists last year.
Cincinnati head coach Hylton Dayes, in his 13th season, is looking to improve on a 6-9-4 overall record last year. The Bearcats will be led by sophomore Richardo Israel, who was selected to the Preseason All-Conference team after anchoring the Cincinnati defense last year.
Temple, led by 14-year head coach David MacWilliams, is coming off a 10-6-3 season in 2012. The Owls made their third-straight trip to the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament. In addition to having 19 players returning from last year’s squad, the 11 newcomers were ranked #20 as a recruiting class by College Soccer News.
The 2013 American Athletic Conference Men’s Soccer Championship will be played at FC Dallas Stadium in Frisco, Texas, on Nov. 15 and 17. The #8 and #9 seeds will have a play-in game at a campus site on Nov. 8 and the quarterfinals will be played on campus sites on Nov. 9.
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