PRESEASON CONFERENCE RANKINGS
Christian Brothers Buccaneers
LOCATION: Memphis, Tenn.
COACH: Clint Browne will be in his ninth season as the head coach of the Bucs. He was the GSC and South Region Coach of the Year this past season.
2014 RECORD: 14-3-1 overall; 8-1 GSC
2014 POSTSEASON: Lost on penalty kicks to Saint Leo in second round of NCAA tournament.
THE CORNERSTONE: So. F Brendan Bennett (4 goals, 2 assists — finished second on the team in goals)
THE SUPPORTING CAST: Sr. M/F Kevin Tikhomiroff (3 goals, 4 assists); Jr. M Diego Silva Vieira (2 goals, 4 assists); So. F Devon Jackson (2 goals, 3 assists); Sr. G Britton McGuire (56 saves, 8 shutouts).
THE SKINNY?: The Bucs several of their top scoring threats and should be a balanced team. Their defense should be in solid shape with the return of McGuire in goal.
Outlook: Christian Brothers was one of the nation’s best teams a year ago but had a tough postseason, falling early in the conference and NCAA tournaments. Those shortcomings will serve as motivation for this year.
Alabama Huntsville Chargers
LOCATION: Huntsville, Ala.
COACH: Matt Watts. He has turned things around quickly in Huntsville in two seasons at the helm. The Chargers have won 23 games in the last two years.
2014 RECORD: 13-4-2 overall; 6-3 GSC
THE CORNERSTONE: Jr. D/M Leo De Smedt (3 goals, 4 assists — finished third on the team in points).
THE SUPPORTING CAST: Jr. F Hermann Bjornsson (4 goals, 2 assists); Jr. Florent Giardin (2 goals, 2 assists); Jr. M Ryo Suzuki (2 goals, 1 assist); Sr. GK Michael Winstone (49 saves, six shutouts).
THE SKINNY?: No returning player put up eye-popping numbers but the Chargers have enough offensively to put together another winning campaign. The fact that they have an experienced goalie in place will make a huge difference as well. Tucker Watts has an opportunity to be one of the top newcomers this year after tallying 18 goals and 22 assists during a stellar high school career in Missouri.
Outlook: The Chargers were nationally ranked last year for the first time since 1997 and are poised to build on that success. If things fall into place as expected, they should be an NCAA tournament team.
West Alabama Tigers
LOCATION: Livingston, Ala.
COACH: Matthew Thorne will enter his fourth season as the head coach and guided the Tigers to a conference title for the first time in 2014.
2014 RECORD: 11-6-1 overall; 6-3 GSC
THE CORNERSTONE: Sr. M Brian Meadows (4 goals, 4 assists – was fourth on the team in scoring).
THE SUPPORTING CAST: Jr. D Alex Brown (3 goals); So. M Patrick Carroll (2 goals); So. F Matthew Pemberton (2 goals). Sr. GK Lavares Stone (52 saves, 3 shutouts).
THE SKINNY?: Maintaining success won’t be easy for a team that lost its three best goal scorers. The good news is the Tigers have two goalies with experience, and it never hurts to have depth at that position. In terms of newcomers, Antonio Williams could be one of the best. He played high school soccer in Michigan and scored 15 goals last year. Don’t be surprised if he is an impact player as a freshman.
Outlook: The Tigers are the defending conference tournament champions, which is impressive when one considers the program is only three years old. Repeating as champs won’t be easy, but the Tigers seem to have enough talent to keep themselves in the hunt for another title.
Mississippi College Choctaws
LOCATION: Clinton, Miss.
COACH: Kevin Johns begins his 12th season as the head coach of the Choctaws. He has won 121 games in his career.
2014 RECORD: 12-6-2 overall; 5-4 GSC
THE CORNERSTONE: Sr. F Ewahia Amhanesi (6 goals – third on the team in goals scored).
THE SUPPORTING CAST: Jr. M George Fradenburg (4 goals, 4 assists); Sr. D Josh Barrera (3 goals); So. D Elliot Rimmer (1 goal, 2 assists); So. M Luis Montes (3 assists); So. GK Humberto Pelaez (70 saves, 6 shutouts).
THE SKINNY?: Despite losing its top three scoring threats, the return of Amhanesi will give the Choctaws a chance to win every time they take the field. Frandenburg’s numbers should rise significantly this year and having a goalie with experience will keep MC in every game.
Outlook: The Choctaws were hit hard by graduation but that shouldn’t slow them down in their quest to have success in the GSC. It may be tough to win a league title but they could easily end up as one of the top four teams in the conference.
LOCATION: Rome, Ga.
2014 RECORD: 12-12-1, 5-4 GSC
THE CORNERSTONE: So. M Charlie Dennis (6 goals, 11 assists — finished second in goals scored).
THE SUPPORTING CAST: Sr. F Lucas Cavenco (5 goals); Sr. M Fernando De Barros (2 goals, 5 assists); Jr. Nico Stutley (2 goals, 1 assist); Sr. GK Nicholas Ferrigno (98 saves, six shutouts).
THE SKINNY?: Dennis will likely emerge as the top scoring threat for the Hawks this season. The good news he has plenty of help around him. The Hawks should also be in great shape defensively with Ferrigno back in the fold.
Outlook: Shorter nearly won the conference tournament title a year ago. Getting back to that spot won’t be an easy task, but Shorter has enough talent back to make another run.
West Florida Argonauts
LOCATION: Pensacola, Fla.
COACH: Bill Elliott has been at the helm of the Argonauts for more than two decades and is a five-time conference coach of the year.
2014 RECORD: 6-9-2 overall; 4-4-1 GSC
THE CORNERSTONE: Sr. M Pablo Paz (4 goals, 1 assist — led the team in points).
THE SUPPORTING CAST: Sr. M Jorge Chirinos (2 goals, 4 assists); Sr. F Felipe Oliveira (4 goals); Jr. F Jonathan Quintero (2 goals, 4 assists). So. F Tristan Rehrig (2 goals, 1 assist); Sr. GK Andre Moreira (50 saves, 3 shutouts).
THE SKINNY?: All of the Argonauts’ primary scoring threats are back, putting them in a position to have one of the best offenses in the conference. UWF will have depth it can utilize to wear down teams and will have one of the top prep athletes on its roster this year in Kameron Bethell, who led Navarre to a district title and also plays club soccer.
Outlook: The Argonauts had a down year but don’t expect them to remain in struggle mode this season. UWF has far too much talent not to catapult itself back into contender status in the conference.
Delta State Statesmen
LOCATION: Cleveland, Miss.
COACH: Andy Robertson. He was named the interim coach in May o last year and has been with the Statesmen for the past three seasons.
2014 RECORD: 7-10 overall; 4-5 GSC
THE CORNERSTONE: Sr. F Jaxon Lambert (3 goals, 2 assists — second on team in points).
THE SUPPORTING CAST: Sr F Bryce Childers (3 goals, 1 assist); So. F Ricardo Fiho (3 goals); Jr. M Sebastian Knabke (2 goals, 1 assist); Sr. D. Andrew Aur (2 goals); So. F Brock Hollier (2 goals); Sr. GK Jonathan Hilton (53 saves, 4 shutouts).
THE SKINNY?: Scoring shouldn’t be an issue for the Statesmen, who return six players that scored two or more goals. The Statesmen also shored up their defense by adding Paxton Stratton, a defender out of Texas, and his high-level club experience could put him in a position to contribute right away.
Outlook: Delta State has experience on its side with most of its lineup intact from a season ago. If the Statesmen stay healthy, they should be able to put together a winning season.
LOCATION: Cleveland, Tenn.
COACH: Paul Furey will be entering his fifth season as the head coach of the Flames. He has won 46 games at the school.
2014 RECORD: 12-9-2 overall; 2-6-1 GSC
THE CORNERSTONE: Jr. F Quade Marinell (8 goals, 7 assists — led team in assists and points).
THE SUPPORTING CAST: Jr. M David Perez (10 goals, 3 assists); Jr. D Garrison Adams (5 goals); Sr. D Jonathan Finlay (1 goal, 3 assists); Sr. D Gabe Franco (2 goals, 1 assist); Jr. M Arturo Rocha (2 goals); Sr. GK Tom Haisall (64 saves, 4 shutouts).
THE SKINNY?: It’s safe to say Lee is loaded with talent on both sides of the ball. The Flames will be one of the toughest opponents to deal with because of their depth and balance on offense and their experience on defense. The future appears to be set as well. The Flames added a solid recruiting class that features five players, including Jake Brown, who will have an opportunity to compete right away for playing time after a successful run with the Tennessee Soccer Club.
Outlook: The Flames had only two seniors on their roster and still managed to win 12 games. All of the key players are back from that squad. Don’t be surprised to see the Flames emerge as one of the better teams in the GSC.
Spring Hill Badgers
LOCATION: Mobile, Ala.
COACH: Steve Wieczorek is the new head coach of the Badgers. He spent the 2014 campaign as an assistant at Oregon State, which won its first ever NCAA tournament game last year.
2014 RECORD: 4-11 overall; 2-7 GSC
THE CORNERSTONE: Sr. F Andrew McInnis (2 goals, 2 assists – finished second on team in points).
THE SUPPORTING CAST: So. M Matthew Lieshout (2 goals, 1 assist); Jr. F Dinard Garrett (2 goals); Jr. GK Jacob Files (17 saves).
THE SKINNY?: Spring Hill managed to score just 14 goals and no one returning this season scored more than two goals. The offense is going to have to step up if the Badgers are going to take steps forward.
Outlook: It won’t be easy to make strides in a competitive conference. What should help Spring Hill, though, is the fact that it does have a coach who knows what it takes to win. Success won’t happen overnight, but the Badgers should be a better team than they were a season ago.
LOCATION: Jackson, Tenn.
COACH: Clovis Simas is set to begin his 10th season as the head coach of the Bulldogs. He played two seasons (2002 and 2003) at Union as well.
2014 RECORD: 3-11 overall; 2-7 GSC
THE CORNERSTONE: Jr. F Paul Langford (3 goals, 2 assists — ranked second on the team in points).
THE SUPPORTING CAST: Jr. M Rodrigo Zonta (3 goals, 1 assist); So. Nil Cicero (2 goals, 2 assists); So. M Lucas Lopes (1 goal, 1 assist); Sr. GK Taylor Smith (59 saves, 1 shutout).
THE SKINNY?: The Bulldogs don’t have that one player who can take over a game but they do have a strong cast of players who can step up at any given moment. They also have experience in goal, which should buy the Bulldogs time as they look to get their offense on track.
Outlook: Union should be an improved team from last season. The Bulldogs won’t contend in the conference but it is possible for them to end up fashioning a winning season.