MAC Men's Soccer Coaches Pick Akron to Repeat

Updated 8/4/2000
The University of Akron men's soccer program has been chosen to win its sixth regular season MAC title in eight years by a vote of the league's coaches. The Zips received 48 of a possible 49 points and six first-place votes in the preseason poll.

Last season the Zips won their third consecutive regular season conference title with a 6-0-1 conference record. They were ranked as high as 12th in the country, and finished the season 18th in the NSCAA/adidas poll.

Akron put itself in strong contention to win its fourth conference title in a row by returning a 1999 first-team All-MAC selection at each position. Junior goalkeeper Kyle Milligan will return after leading the conference with a 0.95 goals against average. On defense, senior Greg Prusha will return for the Zips and he will be joined by junior midfielder ?rjan Bj?neso and junior forward Torbj?rn Birkeland, the fifth highest scorer in the MAC last season.

Kentucky received one first-place vote and finished second in the poll with 40 points. The Wildcats won the conference tournament last season and closed out their season with a 1-0 double-overtime loss to eventual national champion Indiana in the NCAA tournament. Kentucky will return two 1999 first-team all-conference midfielders, junior Ilkka Jantti and senior Giovanni Fernandes.

Northern Illinois finished third in the voting with 33 points. The Huskies, who lost to Kentucky in the conference championship game, will be returning three second-team All-MAC performers, sophomores Peter Agrimson and Andrew Conti and senior Dan Parisi, the second-highest scorer in the conference last season.

Bowling Green finished five points behind Northern Illinois with 28 points. The Falcons will return first-team All-MAC selection senior Fred Degand on defense. Marshall finished fifth in the poll with 21 points and will welcome back Mid-American Conference Co-Newcomer of the Year Byron Carmichael, who finished the 1999 campaign fourth in the conference with 10 goals.

Buffalo finished sixth in the poll with 18 points. The Bulls will have to replace MAC Player of the Year, Steve Butcher, but will return senior all-conference honorees Brian McCallion and Tim Songer to the lineup. Western Michigan finished out the poll with eight points, but will be building off the momentum of a 1999 quarterfinal victory over #1 seed Akron in the conference tournament.