Denver Favored to Claim #SummitMSOC Title

Denver Favored to Claim #SummitMSOC Title

ELMHURST, Ill. – 2016 NCAA College Cup participant the Denver Pioneers were selected as The Summit League preseason men's soccer favorites in a poll of the league's head coaches. The Pioneers won their fourth consecutive league tournament title in 2016 and return six starters from last season.

DU collected all five possible first-place votes for a total of 25 points. Omaha was selected second with 21 points and the final first-place tally, while Western Illinois claimed the third spot with 14 points. Oral Roberts (13 points), Fort Wayne (9 points) and Eastern Illinois (8 points) rounded out the poll.


2017 Summit League Men's Soccer Preseason Coaches' Poll

Rank

School

Points (1st)

2016 Record (SL)

1.

Denver

25 (5)

20-1-3 (5-0-1, 16 pts.)

2.

Omaha

21 (1)

10-5-4 (5-0-1, 16 pts.)

3.

Western Illinois

14

8-10-1 (3-3-0, 9 pts.)

4.

Oral Roberts

13

6-10-2 (2-4-0, 6 pts.)

5.

Fort Wayne

9

9-9-0 (2-4-0, 6 pts.)

6.

Eastern Illinois

8

5-12-1 (2-4-0, 6 pts.)


#SummitMSOC Preseason Notes

  • Omaha returns a league-best three first team all-league selections in goalkeeper Joseph Ghitis, forward Emmanuel Hamzat and defender Seth Rinderknecht. The Mavericks also welcome back second team selection Jacob Weiler (defender).
  • Denver welcomes back a league-best four second team all-league recipients (Scott DeVoss, Blake Elder, Andre Shinyashiki, Graham Smith) and three all-tournament team members (DeVoss, Shinyashiki, Smith) from 2016.
  • A pair of individual award winners return in Omaha's Hamzat (Newcomer of the Year) and Denver's Nick Gardner (Goalkeeper of the Year).
  • Denver became The Summit League's first team (men or women) in any sport to reach a NCAA Final Four after advancing to the 2016 College Cup before falling to Wake Forest, 2-1, in double overtime.
  • The Pioneers are ranked in both the United Soccer Coaches (No. 3) and College Soccer News (No. 4) preseason polls.
  • 2015 Offensive Player of the Year Drew Whalen of Western Illinois returns for his junior season after leading the league in both goals (12) and points (23) two years ago. Also returning for the Fighting Leathernecks are second team all-league selections midfielder Ben Fiddes and forward Fernando Pacheco.
  • Fort Wayne welcomes back first team selection midfielder Zach Tom (5 G, 2 A) and second team honoree forward Oscar Uyamadu (7 G, 3 A), while Oral Roberts returns midfielder Santiago Riveros (6 G, 8 A) from a year ago.
  • Eastern Illinois, coming off just its second league tournament appearance all-time (1994), returns a pair of all-tournament team selections in midfielder Jonathan Huerta and defender Marcus Menniti, along with second team all-league goalie Mike Novotny.
  • Denver has won the last four tournament championship titles and four straight regular-season crowns (shared title in 2014 and 2016).

#SummitMSOC Schedule Notes

  • The 2017 season officially begins Aug. 25 with the league portion of the schedule kicking off Sept. 23 when Eastern Illinois hosts Omaha and Western Illinois visits Fort Wayne.
  • League teams will have eight matches against teams ranked in the preseason top-25 of either the United Soccer Coaches or College Soccer News polls. Denver and Omaha will both battle three teams each, while Oral Roberts will take on two.
  • Last season's tournament championship rematch between Denver and Omaha takes place in the Mile High City on Oct. 28.
  • The top four regular-season finishers will qualify for The Summit League Men's Soccer Championship, held in Omaha, Neb., Nov. 9/11.

Players to Watch

Blake Elder, Denver – F, R-Sr.
- 2016 Summit League All-Newcomer Team
- Named to College Soccer News' National Team of the Week on Sept, 19, 2016
- First player to score a goal in four-straight matches in Denver's Division I history in 2016

Mike Novotny, Eastern Illinois – GK, Sr.
- Two-time All-Summit League Second Team honoree (2015-16)
- Recorded a career-best 1.39 GAA a year ago
- Two-time Summit League Defensive Player of the Week in 2016 (Oct. 24 and Oct. 31)

Fernando Pacheco, Western Illinois – F, Sr.
- Two-time Academic All-Summit League selection (2015-16)
- 2016 All-Summit League Second Team honoree
- Collected four goals and four assists for 12 points a year ago

Santiago Riveros, Oral Roberts – M, Sr.
- Led the league with eight assists in 2016
- All-Summit League Second Team honoree and Offensive Player of the Week selection (Aug. 29) in 2016.
- Recorded six goals while starting all 16 matches 

Andre Shinyashiki, Denver – F, Jr.
- 2016 Summit League Tournament MVP and All-League Second Team honoree
- Led the league with five game-winning goals last season
- Two-time College Soccer News' Team of the Week recipient (Oct. 24 and Nov. 7) in 2016

Zach Tom, Fort Wayne – M, Jr.
- Named to 2016 Summit League First Team and Academic All-League Team
- Tallied 12 points a year ago off five goals and two assists
- 2015 Summit League All-Newcomer Team selection

Jacob Weiler, Omaha – D, Sr.
- Named to the All-Summit League Second Team last season
- Three-time Summit League Academic Honor Roll selection (2014-16)
- Honored as the Sept. 26, 2016, Defensive Player of the Week

Drew Whalen, Western Illinois – F/M, Jr.
- 2015 Summit League Offensive Player of the Year
- Led the league in both goals (10) and points (23) during the 2015 season
- Sat out 2016 campaign due to injury

Note: Players to Watch selected by league's head coaches


ABOUT THE SUMMIT LEAGUE
Through 35 years of Division I athletics, The Summit League offers 19 championship sports and has a combined enrollment of nearly 100,000 at eight institutions, including three located in top 60 U.S. metro populations and two land-grant universities. Member institutions include: Denver (University of Denver), Fort Wayne (Indiana University-Purdue University-Fort Wayne), North Dakota State University, Omaha (University of Nebraska Omaha), Oral Roberts University, the University of South Dakota, South Dakota State University and Western Illinois University with the University of North Dakota becoming an official member on July 1, 2018. Previously known as the Mid-Continent Conference, The Summit League rebranded in 2007 and has since produced nine NCAA Champions along with over 90 Academic All-Americans, nearly 100 All-America selections and numerous former student-athletes competing at the highest professional level. For more information about the league, visit www.thesummitleague.org website, follow The Summit League on Twitter @thesummitleague.

#SummitMSOC