LAURINBURG — After winning the Appalachian Athletic Conference title and advancing to the round of 16 in the NAIA Tournament last season, the St. Andrews University men’s soccer team was tabbed as the preseason favorite to repeat as conference champions this week.
The Knights, led by reining AAC Coach of the Year Stevan Hernandez, received five first-place votes in the preseason coaches poll to edge out Reinhardt as the pick to win the conference.
St. Andrews finished 17-2-1 (7-1-1 in the AAC) last season, defeating Reinhardt 2-0 in the conference championship game to earn a bid to the NAIA tourney. The two teams tied 1-1 in their meeting during the regular season.
In the NAIAs, St. Andrews defeated Thomas 2-1 in the opening round before falling in 3-2 overtime to eventual national champion Davenport.
St. Andrews finished the year ranked No. 15 in the final NAIA poll, and expectations are high entering this season as Hernandez and the Knights look to built off last year’s historic campaign.
The Knights garnered the top spot in the AAC preseason coaches poll with 76 points, while Reinhardt, with 75 points and four first-place votes, followed in second place. The Eagles finished 15-3 overall and also recorded a 7-1-1 conference record in 2014.
Tennessee Wesleyan was picked to finished third with 67 points, and the Bulldogs also notched one first-place vote.
Union, Bryan and Bluefield made up the middle of the pack with 57, 47 and 43 points respectively.
The coaches pegged Milligan seventh with 30 points while Truett-McConnell followed with 21. Montreat (20) and Point (14) rounded out the poll.
St. Andrews will take the field for its first regular season action Aug. 27 in Savannah, Georgia, where the Knights will face Florida Memorial.
Logan Martinez can be reached at 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @L_Martinez13.