NORTH MANCHESTER, Ind. – The Manchester University men's soccer team was picked to finish fourth this season, as announced in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Preseason Poll released on Monday morning.
Perennial HCAC power Transylvania University was selected as the HCAC preseason favorites by a single point over Hanover College. The Pioneers totaled 76 points and five first-place votes. Hanover also earned five first-place votes and 75 points. Rose-Hulman was selected to finish third and earned 66 points in the HCAC Preseason Poll.
The Spartans rounded out the top four with 57 points. MU will look to qualify for its third consecutive HCAC Tournament in 2019. Manchester has gone 6-3 in league play in each of the last two seasons.
Head Coach Corey Brueggeman will be in his fourth season at the helm of the program. Brueggeman has compiled an overall record of 27-25-4. In HCAC play, Brueggeman has led the Spartans to a 15-11-1 league mark.
On the pitch, junior forward Josh Gonzalez (Portage, Ind./Portage) will return as the team's leading offensive threat. Last season, Gonzalez was named the HCAC Offensive MVP. He scored 14 goals and added six assists for a league-leading 34 points in 2018. Gonzalez also became Manchester's first all-region player in over decade; he earned Third Team All-Great Lakes Region honors. He was designated a "Player to Watch" by the HCAC.
Five other Spartans were named "Players to Watch" including defenders Nash Walker (West Lafayette, Ind./Harrison), Matthew Roop (West Lafayette, Ind./Harrison), and Ryan Worman (Albion, Ind./Canterbury School). Midfielders Nick Surber (Hebron, Ind./Hebron) and Drew Gavit (Fishers, Ind./Fishers) also were named "Players to Watch" for this upcoming season.
The remaining HCAC poll included Anderson (46 pts), Mount St. Joseph (31 pts), Earlham (30 pts), Franklin (26 pts), Defiance (24 pts) and Bluffton (17 pts).
The Spartans will kickoff their season on the road on Saturday August 31 at MacMurray College in Illinois. Kickoff will be at 3 p.m. (2 p.m. CT).