RICHARDSON, Texas – The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor has been picked to win the 2018 American Southwest Conference men’s soccer title after a vote of the league’s head coaches and sports information directors, the ASC office announced Thursday (August 16).
UT Tyler senior midfielder/forward Lucas Pereira and Mary Hardin-Baylor senior defender Caleb Vandergriff were named the ASC Preseason Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, respectively.
Mary Hardin-Baylor (17-3-1 / 10-1 ASC) recorded 298 points and 19 out of 26 possible first place votes after claiming its first ASC Championship in 2017. The Cru, led by United Soccer Coaches West Region Coach of the Year Brad Bankhead, advanced to the third round of the NCAA Championship.
UT Dallas (11-6-2 / 7-3-1 ASC) recorded 276 points in the preseason poll and received 16 out of a possible 24 first-place votes. Reigning ASC Coach of the Year Jason Hirsch and the Comets enter the season as the defending ASC champion, having made their third consecutive appearance in the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament last season. UTD went unbeaten in conference play in 2017 and have won 54 total matches over the past four seasons.
Hardin-Simmons University (9-4-3 / 7-1-2 ASC) received 240 points and two first-place votes in the preseason poll to be ranked second. The Cowboys have finished second in the regular season standings two of the last three years and was the runner-up in the ASC Championship in 2016.
UT Dallas (11-6-2 / 7-3-1 ASC) was second in the preseason poll collecting 275 points and five first place votes. The Comets finished third overall last season and advanced to the semifinals of the ASC Championship.
Concordia Texas (8-5-2 /5-4-2 ASC) were picked third after a fifth-place finish last year and Hardin-Simmons (5-7-2 / 4-5-2 ASC) were fourth in the poll with one first place vote.
Rounding out the poll were McMurry (8-6-3 / 5-3-3 ASC), Ozarks (9-7-2 / 4-5-2 ASC), Belhaven (4-7-6 / 3-5-3 ASC), first-year program Sul Ross State, East Texas Baptist (6-8-3 / 2-7-2 ASC), Howard Payne (6-8 / 4-7 ASC), LeTourneau (3-9-4 / 3-6-2 ASC) and Louisiana College (1-15 / 1-10 ASC).
Sul Ross State enters its first season as a varsity men’s soccer program, giving the ASC 13 programs.
McMurry completed the reclassifying process from NCAA Division II and will now be eligible for the ASC and NCAA Championships. Belhaven University enters its fourth and final year of transition into Division III athletics, but will not be eligible for selection to the NCAA Championship. UT Tyler will not count in the conference standing or be eligible for the NCAA and ASC Championships due to reclassifying to NCAA Division II. Patriot student-athletes will be eligible for all awards.
Pereira (Barcelona, Spain) was an All-ASC First Team selection and United Soccer Coaches All-America First Team selection in 2017. He led the conference with 11 goals was fourth with four assists.
Vandergriff (Georgetown, Texas) was the ASC Defensive Player of the Year and a First Team All-America pick by the USC and D3soccer.com. He started all 21 games for the conference champion Cru and anchored a back line that limited opponents to just 79 shots on goal with 10 shutouts. Vandergriff also scored four goals with two assists.
Thirty-nine student-athletes were named to the ASC Men’s Soccer Players to Watch List. The list is composed of up to three players from each institution nominated by the head coaches. Twenty-four of the players submitted are returning all-conference selections with three individual award winners.
The 2018 season will get underway Friday, August 31 when nine teams take the field for their season openers.
The ASC Championship is scheduled for Oct. 30, Nov. 2 and 4. The quarterfinals will be hosted by the top four seeds with the semifinals and championship game at the overall No. 1 seed. An automatic berth into the NCAA Division III Men’s Soccer Championship will be on the line.