Following a 2017 campaign that saw them make their third-consecutive Southland Conference Tournament appearance, the Central Arkansas Bears have been picked to push their postseason streak to four years in a row, the conference announced on Thursday with the release of its preseason polls.
The Bears, who went 11-10-0 last season and earned the fourth seed in the 2017 SLC Tournament thanks to a 7-4-0 mark in league play, were picked to finish fourth by the league's coaches and sports information directors.
Defending regular season and tournament champion Lamar took 20 of 24 first-place votes for a total of 240 points, while Stephen F. Austin garnered two first-place votes and 212 points.
Abilene Christian earned the final two first-place votes and totaled 182 points to be picked third, while Central Arkansas came in fourth with a total of 172 points.
"Being selected fourth in the preseason polls is a good indicator of where we are as a program," UCA coach Jeremy Bishop said. "It wasn't very long ago that we would have been picked in one of the bottom few spots and outside of the postseason tournament. But as this program has improved and we work toward our fourth straight trip to the postseason, we are now expected to do really well and I know that our players are ready for the challenge of the conference season."
Bishop and the Bears open the 2018 season with an exhibition game Friday night at 7 p.m., heading to Oxford, Mississippi, to take on the SEC's Ole Miss Rebels, before opening the 2018 regular season at the Bill Stephens Complex against Little Rock at 7 p.m. on Aug. 17.
For full information on Southland Conference Preseason Polls, visit: http://sland.social/18SOCpoll.
Hair named TDS Spring All-America
Women's soccer player Gracie Hair has been named to the TopDrawerSoccer.com Spring High School All-America Team, the organization announced last week.
"What a great honor for Gracie," Bishop said. "She had an outstanding high school career. I believe she was one of the best all-around players coming out of Oklahoma this year. We are excited to have her here at UCA and have no doubt that she will have an outstanding career here, as well."
Hair, who was one of 12 players to earn Second Team honors, helped lead Broken Arrow High School to a perfect 21-0 record and an Oklahoma 6A State Championship. She played all 840 minutes of the Tigers' 2018 campaign, earning All-State Honors after scoring five goals and adding eight assists while helping BAHS post a 13-game shutout streak.
Hair and the Bears opened the 2018 season Friday with an exhibition match at Ole Miss, before kicking off the regular season next Aug. 17 against Little Rock at the Bill Stephens Complex. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Brodacki named to MAC’s Hermann Trophy watch list
The Missouri Athletic Club and United Soccer Coaches announced the watch list for the 2018 MAC Hermann Trophy on Thursday afternoon, and for the first time ever, a Central Arkansas Bear has been included, as junior Niklas Brodacki is one of 32 players on the list for the men's award.
The MAC Hermann Trophy, presented by World Wide Technology and awarded each season to the most outstanding male and female players of the year, is the most prestigious individual award in college soccer.
It will be announced Jan. 4, 2019, at the Missouri Athletic Club in St. Louis, Missouri.
Brodacki, from Norrkoping, Sweden, has been an offensive force during his first two years at Central Arkansas, earning Missouri Valley Conference Offensive Player of the Year in 2016 and 2017 and adding MVC Player of the Year honors in 2017.
A two-time USC All-West Region selection, he led the nation with 17 goals in 2017 and has an NCAA-best 30 goals over the past two years.
"Niklas is in elite company with this recognition," UCA coach Ross Duncan said. "Being on this shortlist sets him apart as truly one of the top players at the Division I level. Here at UCA, we have known that since the day he set foot on campus, but it is nice to see his efforts now recognized at the national level. He is a tireless worker, a professional in his attitude and his approach to his role on the team, and, most importantly, an excellent leader and teammate. We couldn't be prouder of this honor for him."
The MAC Hermann Trophy Watch Lists are compiled by members of the United Soccer Coaches Men's and Women's NCAA Division I All-America Committees.
Fifteen semifinalists will be named for both awards near the end of the season based on voting by NCAA Division I coaches, and from these candidates three finalists will be placed on the final ballot for the award.
For more information on the MAC Hermann Trophy, including full Watch Lists and past winners, visit: http://www.machermanntrophy.org/.