ST. LOUIS, Mo. - The Missouri Valley Conference released its 2012 Preseason Men's Soccer Coaches' Poll on Tuesday (Aug. 14) and Drake was tabbed to finish fifth, while placing junior defender Garrett Crall (Norwalk, Iowa/Norwalk) on the preseason All-MVC squad.
The Bulldogs, who posted an 11-8-1 mark a year ago, will be led by the return of its lone true senior in Michael Thaden (West Des Moines, Iowa/Valley), who sat out the 2011 campaign after scoring four goals and adding three assists in 18 starts as a junior in 2010. Complimenting Thaden will be five returning starters in juniors Bryan Jantsch (Mission Hills, Kan./Rockhurst), Nick Marshall (Glen Carbon, Ill./Edwardsville), Logan North (St. Charles, Mo./Francis Howell North) and Crall, along with sophomore Kyle Whigham (Overland Park, Kan./St. Thomas Aquinas).
Pegged ahead of the Bulldogs are SIU Edwardsville (27 points), Bradley (34 points), Missouri State (38 points and three first-place votes) and Creighton, who, was selected as the preseason favorite to win the league crown with 46 points and four first-place tallies. Rounding out the poll were Evansville (18 points) and Central Arkansas (12 points).
Crall was among 13 players named by a vote of the seven MVC men's head soccer coaches to the All-MVC Preseason team.
Starting in all 19 games he appeared in for the Bulldogs as a sophomore, Crall collected eight shots from his defender's slot en route to earning second-team All-MVC accolades. Defensively, he helped anchor a Drake defensive unit that registered three shutouts, all versus conference opponents.
Drake opens its season battling Cincinnati, on Aug. 24 at 4:00 p.m. as part of the Saint Louis University Tournament.
Team - Total Points
1. Creighton (4) - 46 points
2. Missouri State (3) - 38 points
3. Bradley - 34 points
4. SIUE - 27 points
5. Drake - 21 points
6. Evansville - 18 points
7. Central Arkansas - 12 points
(#) first-place votes
2012 MVC Men's Soccer Preseason Team
Brian Billings, Bradley, Jr., GK
Bruno Castro, Creighton, Jr., M/F
Garrett Crall, Drake, Jr., D
Jose Gomez, Creighton, Sr., M/F
Jochen Graf, Bradley, Sr., F
Benny Jeffery, SIUE, Sr, M
Eric Miller, Creighton, So., M/D
Ethan Miller, Central Arkansas, Sr., M/F
Matt Polster, SIUE, So., M
Andrew Ribeiro, Creighton, Sr., M/F
Jesse Sharp, Evansville, Sr., F
Matt Taphorn, Central Arkansas, So., D
Andrew Turner, Missouri State, So., D