Cumberland was picked third in the Mid-South Conference men’s soccer preseason coaches’ poll released Thursday by the league office.
The Bulldogs picked up 35 points in the poll of the eight league coaches. Second-year head coach Kyle Smith returns 11 letterwinners and six starters from last season’s club that finished 7-13-1 overall, 4-5-0 in Mid-South action.
Cumberland was 0-6-1 in extra time last season before posting a 2-1 overtime victory over the University of the Cumberlands on the road in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament. Then the Bulldogs upset second-ranked Lindsey Wilson in the semifinals before falling, 3-1, to No. 6 Rio Grande in the tourney finals.
This year’s club has just three seniors – Ian Hamilton, Jacob McElyea and Rafael Niebur – and three other upperclassmen compared to 20 freshmen and sophomores. Sophomore Josh Armstrong is the team’s leading returning goal scorer with six along with four assists, while sophomore Elliott Goodwin added four goals and four assists last season and sophomore Tom Reilly registered five goals and one assist.
Hamilton played well in net in the second half of last season and finished the year with 102 saves. The Bulldogs surrendered 11 goals in their final eight matches of 2013.
Cumberland will begin the season with four straight home outings starting Aug. 29-30 when the Bulldogs face Milligan and Georgia Gwinnett, respectively. The Bulldogs will take on Tennessee Wesleyan on Sept. 4 and face Missouri Baptist on Sept. 6.