LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The University of Rio Grande has been picked to finish second in the 2012 Mid-South Conference preseason coaches’ poll, which was released late last week by conference officials.
The RedStorm received one first-place vote and 73 total points in the balloting. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own squad.
Lindsey Wilson College was the top pick in the voting, receiving 81 voting points and the remaining nine first-place nods from the conference coaches. The Blue Raiders not only captured the MSC regular season and tournament titles in 2011, but also won the program’s ninth NAIA national title last season.
Rio Grande returns a number of key performers from last year’s team, which finished 19-3 and ranked No. 5 in the final national poll after a season-ending loss in the quarterfinal round of the national tournament.
Leading the list of returnees is senior forward/midfielder Richard Isberner (Sao Paulo, Brazil), the league’s reigning Player of the Year and a first team All-America honoree. He led the nation in points (76), ranked second in the country in goals scored (29) and tied for the national lead in assists (18).
Isberner scored a school-record 15 points (5 goals and 5 assists) in an MSC Tournament win over St. Catharine College.
Also back for veteran head coach Scott Morrissey is senior forward/midfielder Rafael Maccauro (Sao Paulo, Brazil), a first team All-MSC pick who scored two goals and assisted on 15 others; senior midfielder/forward Oliver Hewitt-Fisher (Swansea, Wales), who had six goals and 10 assists last season; and senior goalkeeper Jack Merchant (Leeds, England), who allowed just 20 goals in 22 games while also recording 54 saves.
University of the Cumberlands was third in the preseason poll with 64 voting points and Campbellsville University placed fourth with 53 voting points. Cumberland University, which begins its first season in the MSC as a full member since 2001, was fifth in the poll with 48 voting points followed by Shawnee State University with 43 voting points.
Georgetown College was predicted to finish seventh as the Tigers garnered 33 voting points followed by MSC newcomer Bluefield College (24 voting points), St. Catharine (22) and the University of Pikeville (9).
The 2012 MSC men’s soccer season begins later this month and concludes with the conference tournament beginning in early November at various campus sites. The tournament’s semifinals and finals are scheduled for Nov. 7-8 on the campus of Lindsey Wilson in Columbia, Ky.