CHICKASHA – The target remains on the USAO men’s soccer team’s back as they sit atop the Sooner Athletic Conference preseason poll.
In the poll, which conference coaches vote on, the Drovers were the unanimous pick for first, despite graduating some key players.
“We are very honored that our team is picked to finish so high in a conference as tough and loaded with quality programs and coaches as the SAC,” Head Coach Jimmy Hampton said. “It will be very tough to win the SAC, and we just hope to compete well.”
Reputation, no doubt, was a major player in the poll. The Drovers have attended the NAIA National Tournament three years in a row and made it the Quarterfinals the last two seasons. Furthermore, the Drovers won the regular season SAC title in 2011 a week before the last game ended. They went on to win the SAC tournament also.
USAO received 64 points in the poll. Coming in second was Oklahoma City with 52 points, and Oklahoma Baptist was third with 48 points.
“We will continue to work and get better daily and bring along our young players, while counting on the returning veterans to help us get through a very tough schedule this year,” Hampton said. “We will strive to put ourselves in a position to compete for the SAC title. We look forward to a great year of competition.”
The SAC lost Oklahoma Christian and Southern Nazarene, who moved the NCAA Division II this year. This season is expected to be the last for Lubbock Christian and Rogers State, who were admitted into the NCAA Division II this summer.
The NAIA Preseason Poll is expected to be released Tuesday.
The Drovers open the season at home against Baker College on Aug. 24. The men will kick off at 5 p.m.