Kansas City, Mo. – With its season opener just under a week away, the Saint Xavier University men’s soccer team will begin the new campaign boasting the No. 25 spot in the 2011 NAIA Men’s Soccer Coaches' Preseason Top 25 Poll, which was released earlier this week by the national office. Last season, the Cougars earned the program’s first national tournament bid by finishing 15-6-1 overall and upsetting No. 25 ranked and No. 1 seed Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in the championship game of the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) Tournament. SXU ended its 2010 season in opening round action falling 1-0 in overtime to No. 13 ranked Grand View University (Iowa).
“I’m proud of the ranking, because I think it’s is a great recognition of Saint Xavier and how far this program has come over the past few years,” said SXU men’s soccer coach Ed Vucinic. “While it’s nice to be recognized with the best, I think the ranking is more a testament to what we accomplished last season. Ultimately, we need to prove it this fall and want to be in the mix when the final rankings come out. That’s the idea. I’m also proud of the schedule we’re playing this season. Four of the eight non-conference games we play this year are against teams in the top 18 in the country and a fifth that just missed getting in the Top 25.”
The team returns a solid core from last year’s national qualifying squad, including senior forward Matt Klancic (Aurora, Ill./Bowling Green State/Waubonsie Valley) who earned NAIA All-American Honorable Mention recognition in 2010. In addition to Klancic, the Cougars also return three players named to the 2010 All-CCAC Men’s Soccer Team in senior midfielders Adrian Guzman (Chicago, Ill./De La Salle) and Al Palar (Zabrze, Poland/Plainfield Central) as first team selections to go along with sophomore goalkeeper Kyle Held (Palatine, Ill./Palatine), a second team honoree.
Saint Xavier will play a 2 p.m. exhibition with NCAA Division I Eastern Illinois University (Ill.) in Charleston, Ill., on Saturday, August 20. The Cougars will then officially open the 2011 slate with a road game against Bethel College (Ind.) on Wednesday, August 24, in Mishawaka, Ind. The game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. (eastern) start.