Photo by Russsell Marwitz/True To The Cru/russellmarwitz.com
RICHARDSON, Texas- Coming off its American Southwest Conference title in 2022, expectations around the league remain high for the UMHB men’s soccer program. The Crusaders were picked first in the conference’s 2023 Preseason Poll, which was released Wednesday afternoon.
UMHB garnered 10 of the 18 first-place votes in the poll, with 152 points total. The Cru posted a 13-3-2 record with a 7-1-1 mark in ASC play last fall and shutout LeTourneau, 6-0, in the conference title match.
Concordia was No. 2 in the poll, with four first-place votes. The Tornadoes were responsible for UMHB’s lone conference loss last season, defeating The Cru, 5-1, in the regular season finale. Concordia tallied 138 points, followed by UT-Dallas, who was selected in the third spot, with 117 points.
Four different programs split the final four first-place votes after UMHB and Concordia earned the first 14. No. 3 UTD, No. 4 Hardin-Simmons, No. 5 Ozarks, and No. 8 McMurry each had one first-place vote. LeTourneau and ETBU followed Ozarks in the sixth and seventh spots, and Howard Payne rounded out the poll at No. 9.
Sul Ross State will play games in the ASC for the final time before it moves up to the NCAA D-II level, but due to the transition period, the Lobos will not count towards the conference standings and are ineligible for the ASC and NCAA Tournaments. As a result, SRSU was not included in the preseason poll.
Hardin-Simmons, who had 115 points, will be led this season by former UMHB head coach Brad Bankhead. An alum of HSU, Bankhead coached The Cru for 16 seasons before taking an administrative role at UMHB last year. He inherits a team led by senior Jakob Fiol, who was named the ASC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year. LeTourneau goalkeeper Raul Torrez earned the league’s Preseason Defensive Player of the Year honor.
ASC Preseason Poll (First place votes in parentheses)
- UMHB (10)–152 points
- Concordia (4)–138 points
- UT-Dallas (1)–117 points
- Hardin-Simmons (1)–115 points
- Ozarks (1)–81 points
- LeTourneau–72 points
- ETBU–58 points
- McMurry (1)–48 points
- Howard Payne–31 points
UMHB also placed three of its returning contributors on the “Players To Watch” list, in defender Peyton Hoyt, and midfielders Karsen Macias and Sawyer Young.
Hoyt, who earned Third Team All-ASC honors in 2022, contributed to a back line that posted seven shutouts as he started 17 matches. Young was also a Third Team selection last season, and tallied 1,416 minutes, with seven assists. Macias, who played in all 18 contests, scored three game-winners and recorded 15 shots on goal as a freshman.
UMHB begins its 2023 season in Conway, Arkansas, facing Rhodes on Sept. 1 and Hendrix on Sept. 3. The home opener comes a week later on Sept. 8, when the Crusaders host Texas Lutheran.