Gamecocks Selected First In Conference USA Preseason Poll
Aug. 8, 2012
IRVING, Texas - The South Carolina men's soccer team, led by veteran head coach Mark Berson in his 35th season, was picked to finish first in the 2012 Conference USA Preseason Poll, while junior forward Bradlee Baladez was selected to the 13-member Men's Soccer Preseason All-Conference Team for the second-consecutive season, as announced today by the league office.
2012 marks the first time the Gamecocks have been selected as the preseason favorite in the league. Their previous high mark was when the team was projected to finish second in 2006. The Gamecocks were the 2011 regular season co-champs of the league last year.
SMU was picked to finish second, followed by UCF, UAB, Memphis, Tulsa, Kentucky, Marshall and FIU. Memphis' Mark Sherrod was tabbed as the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, while Marshall goalkeeper Daniel Winthrow earned Defensive Player of the Year honors.
South Carolina, who received votes in the NSCAA Preseason Top 25 poll earlier this week, led the team poll, garnering 65 total points and one first place vote to edge SMU (64 points, two first place votes) as the coaches' preseason favorite. The tightly bunched poll results saw six teams receive at least one first place vote. Both the preseason team and poll are selected by the league's nine head coaches.
Baladez paced the Gamecocks during his sophomore campaign with seven goals and five assists for 19 points. The Dallas, Texas, native tallied at least one point in all eight of South Carolina's Conference USA matches, including two game-winning tallies, at UAB and versus Tulsa. Baladez was also selected to the All-Conference USA First Team in 2011.
The complete poll and team are listed below.
2012 Conference USA Preseason Men's Soccer Poll
Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Mark Sherrod, F, Memphis
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Daniel Withrow, GK, Marshall
2012 Preseason All-C-USA Men's Soccer Team