ROCK HILL, S.C.—The Tusculum University men's soccer team has been selected to finish fourth in the South Atlantic Conference preseason coaches poll, the SAC office announced Tuesday.
The Pioneers, who won their third SAC Tournament championship title in the last five years in 2018, were one of five teams to receive a first-place vote in the poll, and are tied for fourth in the survey with Wingate.
Tusculum welcomes back eight starters from last year's championship team, six of whom have been recognized as preseason All-Conference selections. First-team honors go to senior midfielder Fabian Proesch and senior defender Georgios Charkoutsakis, while senior midfielder Henrique Devens, junior midfielder Edgar Cervantes, junior defender Clement Dagorn and senior goalkeeper Alejandro Quiriti were named to the second team.
Proesch is a three-year starter at midfield who was named second-team All-SAC last season after scoring a goal and a team-high six assists in 19 appearances. Proesch was named to the SAC All-Tournament team and had four of his six assists in the Pioneers' five postseason matches. The Toensberg, Norway native has two goals and seven assists for 11 points in 52 career matches, 43 of which have been starts.
Charkoutsakis captured second-team All-SAC honors for the second time in his career after anchoring a Tusculum defense that did not allow more than five shots on goal in any of its last 15 matches during the 2018 season. On offense, Charkoutsakis had three goals and one assist for seven points, including a pair of game-winning goals during the postseason. The Heraklion, Greece native played every second of every match during both the 2016 and 2018 seasons, and has six goals and four assists for 16 points in 52 career matches.
Devens is the Pioneers' top returning scorer from 2018, having ranked second on the team with eight goals and an assist for 17 points. Devens also led Tusculum in shot attempts (54) and shots on goal (23) and had two goals in the Pioneers' 3-2 win over Queens in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, one of three multi-goal games for Devens last year. The Aracruz, Brazil native came to Tusculum after two years at Iowa Central College where he scored 25 goals in 30 career matches.
Cervantes is a second-team preseason All-SAC selection for the second straight year, and has been voted honorable mention All-SAC following each of his first two seasons with the Pioneers. Cervantes appeared in 19 matches last season, making 16 starts, and was selected to the SAC All-Tournament team. The Cancun, Mexico product has played in 35 career matches (23 starts) and has three goals and two assists for eight points.
Dagorn was a pivotal part of the Pioneer defense last season, playing every minute in 14 of the 19 matches he started. Dagorn, who also collected a pair of assists at the offensive end, is a native of Saint-Brieuc, France and a two-year starter for the Pioneers with three assists in 35 career matches.
Quiriti led the SAC in shutouts last season with nine and compiled a 0.90 average in 18 starts, finishing the year with an 11-5-1 record and a .754 save percentage. His 0.90 goals against average and nine shutouts were the third-best in a single season in program history. The native of Mar del Plata, Argentina has 10 shutouts in 27 career starts for the Pioneers, with a goals against average of 1.24 which is tied for second-most in Tusculum history.
Lenoir-Rhyne edged Queens for the top spot in the preseason poll, as the Bears had six first-place votes and 101 points to two first-place votes and 100 points for the Royals. Anderson had a first-place vote and 83 points for third place, while Tusculum and Wingate each had a first-place vote and 81 points to tie for fourth. The rest of the poll consisted of Lincoln Memorial (68) in sixth and Carson-Newman (67) in seventh, with Newberry (40), Mars Hill (38), Coker (33) and Catawba (23) rounding out the 11-team ranking.
Tusculum will play its regular-season opener on Saturday, Sept. 7 at Emmanuel beginning at 6 p.m. and will face off with Lenoir-Rhyne in their SAC lidlifter on Saturday, Sept. 21 in Hickory, North Carolina. The Pioneers' home opener is on Wednesday, Sept. 25 against Lees-McRae at 6 p.m.