WINTER PARK, Fla. – After a 2013 season that saw them win the SSC Tournament Championship, Steve McCrath’s squad heads into the 2014 campaign ranked fourth in the 2014 Sunshine State Conference Pre-season Men’s Soccer Poll.
While the Bucs were predicted to finish outside the top three in the standings with 48 votes, they’re not far behind their nearest rivals in the rankings, Lynn, who have 45 votes. Also the Bucs were one of only three teams in the conference to receive a first place vote in the poll.
The Buccaneers plan to meet and exceed expectations this season with the help of six returning starters, as well big contributors off the bench.
Returning on the field for Barry are notable players midfielder Nico Gerke, who was tied for third on the team last season for goals scored with five, as well last year’s leader in assists, midfielder Ryan King.
Also returning to the pitch for the Buccaneers is the 2012 season’s goal leader (5), forward Connor Randel, whose return from a season-ending injury that kept him out of the 2013 campaign, brings much needed firepower to a Barry roster that lost three of its top four goal scorers from last season.
Even with a fair amount of talent, experience and leadership returning this year for Barry, achieving their goals for the season will still be a challenge as they face off against three teams ranked in the NSCAA preseason Top 25 rankings.
McCrath’s team faces an early season road test when they head up to Georgia to take on #11 ranked Young Harris on September 7th.
The schedule doesn’t get any easier in the month of October as Barry takes on the #5 ranked team in the nation, Rollins, at Buccaneer Field. 2013 SSC Freshman of the Year Tosan Popo returns for the Tars, as does All-SSC Second Team player Grant Blackhurst.
Just two weeks later they head to the west side of Florida to face off against the defending SSC champions, and the preseason SSC top pick, the #17-ranked Saint Leo Lions.
Saint Leo returns seven of 11 starters from last season, including three of its four All-SSC First-Team honorees from a season ago.
2014 SSC Preseason Men’s Soccer Poll
Rank – Team, Points (1st-place votes)
- Saint Leo, 62 (6)
- Rollins, 54 (2)
- Lynn, 48
- Barry, 45 (1)
- Tampa, 36
- Florida Tech, 26
- Florida Southern, 25
- Nova Southeastern, 16
- Eckerd, 12