Not surprisingly, the top-ranked men’s soccer side in the country is the coaches’ preseason favorite to win the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.
Fort Lewis College – 24-1-0 (13-1-0 RMAC) and the defending Division II national champion – will start the season atop the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Preseason Top 25 Poll.
On Wednesday, FLC received eight of nine coaches’ votes to win the RMAC. Colorado School of Mines was picked to finish runner-up and received the other first-place vote.
“Obviously, it’s an honor for our fellow competitors in the RMAC to select us as the favorites for the upcoming season,” FLC head coach Oige Kennedy said in a news release. “The conference is one of the very best in the country, and year-in, year-out we see teams featuring on a national level.”
Kennedy has won national championships in two of his three seasons as head coach. As a program, FLC has won nine RMAC regular-season titles and 11 RMAC postseason tournaments.
“It’s a league where on any given weekend anyone can get a result over you, and we feel it’s the best conference in the country to play in to help you prepare for postseason play,” Kennedy said.
Regis was picked to finish third, and Metro State, which received votes for the NSCAA top 25, was picked to finish fourth. The rest of the preseason rankings: UC-Colorado Springs, CSU-Pueblo, Colorado Mesa, Adams State and Colorado Christian.
“I think this ranking will provide for a bigger target on our backs this year, but our players will be prepared to thrive in that type of pressure,” Kennedy said.
Three FLC players were chosen to the Preseason All-RMAC Team: Kosta Kordistos, a sophomore striker; Johannes Sander, a sophomore defender; and Alberto Capdepon Rodriguez, a sophomore midfielder.
“The individual players being selected is something well-deserved for them,” Kennedy said. “They have worked hard since their arrival in Durango. They are looking forward to the season getting underway and beginning a new legacy.”
Tesho Akindele, a junior striker from Colorado Mines, was chosen as the Preseason Player of the Year, and Andrwe Mejia, a junior defender from Metro State, was chosen as the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.
FLC will host Otero Junior College at 11 a.m. Sunday at Dirks Field in its first exhibition game of the season.
The regular season will start with a pair of nonconference games Aug. 30.
FLC will play No. 10 Incarnate Word the next day in Golden.
Colorado Mines, ranked fifth in the NSCAA Preseason Top 25 Poll, received six of the 10 first-place votes to win the RMAC.
Regis, absent from the national rankings, received the coaches’ other four votes and was picked to finish runner-up.
FLC, ranked 10th nationally, was picked to finish third in the conference. FLC finished its 2011 season 15-3-4 (10-2-2 RMAC).
Madyson Wellcome was the Skyhawks’ lone representative on the Preseason All-RMAC roster. Wellcome is a junior defender.
Megan Woodworth, a senior midfielder from Colorado Mines, was picked as the Preseason Player of the Year, while Alison Cahill, a junior defender from Regis, was picked as the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.
The women’s soccer season will start with a trio of nonconference games Aug. 30.