by Benny Benton
HIGH POINT, N.C. – The Barton College men's soccer team has been picked ninth in the Conference Carolinas Preseason Coaches' Poll, the league announced Wednesday.
The Bulldogs earned the No. 8 seed in last year's league tournament, and officially ended 2016-17 with a record of 4-5-1 in conference play when a forfeit win was awarded after the season was over.
Barton, officially 6-11-1 overall a year ago, returns 20 players from that squad, including eight with double-digit starts, and adds nine newcomers.
BC also welcomes a new head coach to the sidelines in Ian McMichael, who most recently led Hampden-Sydney College after previously serving as associate head coach at Pfeiffer University.
"Our focus is on the present," McMichael said. "We're focused on working hard to improve daily and grow as a team. The guys have responded well to the coaching change. If we continue to push ourselves, we will be competitive in this league."
Among those who will lead Barton in 2017 is senior goalkeeper Jens Madsen Hordvik, a two-time all-conference performer; junior Tolly Beatson, who has led the Bulldogs in points each of the past two seasons; and junior Javier Alcarria, who will direct the BC attack from his midfield spot.
"I think we have great leadership from Tolly, Jens and Seth Russ, as well as a few other seniors," McMichael said. "Javy in the middle of the park will be an important part of how we play and how we operate. Then collectively, we need a lot of guys to step up and be impact players for us."
With defending league champion Pfeiffer moving to the NCAA Division III ranks, Limestone has emerged as the overwhelming preseason favorite. The Saints went 9-1 in league play last season and reached the second round of the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional before losing to eventual national champion, Wingate University.
Southern Wesleyan University was picked second, followed by Erskine College in third. Chowan University, competing in the league for the first time as an associate member, was chosen fourth and received Limestone's first-place vote (teams cannot vote for themselves).
University of Mount Olive and King University tied for fifth in the poll, followed by Lees-McRae College in seventh and Belmont Abbey College in eighth. Trailing Barton was North Greenville University in 10th.
Barton opens its 2017 campaign at Tusculum College on September 2, and makes its home debut on September 16 against Limestone.
"Our start is quite challenging with four games on the road and then a home opener against the conference favorites," McMichael said. "But we embrace the challenge, and we want to set ourselves up to be in great form for the conference slate."
To view the complete Conference Carolinas release, click here.
|Conference Carolinas Men's Soccer|
|2017 Preseason Coaches Poll|
|1.||Limestone College||90 (9)|
|2.||Southern Wesleyan University||69|
|4.||Chowan University||57 (1)|
|5.||University of Mount Olive||54|
|8.||Belmont Abbey College||46|
|10.||North Greenville University||22|