PASADENA —The University of La Verne men's soccer team has been selected to finish fourth in the first annual Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) coaches' preseason poll.
Two-time defending league champion and reigning SCIAC Postseason Tournament titlist Redlands was the coaches' choice to repeat, picking up eight first-place votes for a low total of nine points. Chapman, who finished tied with the Leopards in second place in 2015, was picked to finish second overall with 25 points.
Occidental (29 points) and La Verne (34) round out the top four, followed by Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (35), Pomona-Pitzer (42), Whittier (56), Cal Lutheran (59) and Caltech (71).
In 2015, the Leopards turned in a 16-5-1 campaign that saw them finish second in the SCIAC with a 11-4-1 conference mark while securing a spot in the SCIAC Postseason Tournament for the first time since 2008. The Leopards topped Chapman in the semifinal, 1-0, before falling to Redlands, 2-1, in the championship game and narrowly missed out on a berth to the NCAA National Championship tournament.
La Verne returns all 11 players that started in the final game against Redlands, including all five of its 2015 All-SCIAC selections. Leading the 2016 squad will be Nathan Gonzalez, a First Team All-SCIAC forward who led the league in goals (14) and total points (34) in 2015. On defense, Anton Russell will once again anchor a backline that contributed to seven clean sheets and gave up less than a goal per game.
The Leopards begin the 2016 campaign on Tuesday, Aug. 30, hosting Bethesda University at Ortmayer Stadium at 7:30 p.m.
2016 SCIAC Men's Soccer Preseason Poll