Akron Picked To Win Mid-American Conference Men's Soccer Title

Updated 8/18/1999
CLEVELAND (August 18) -- The University of Akron was a unanimous choice to win the Mid-American Conference men's soccer title again in 1999 as the Zips received 64 points in the coaches poll, the league office announced.

The Zips, who return two all-MAC first team selections from last year's 17-3-1 team,won their fourth regular season title in six years in 1998 and claimed their first MAC tournament title, a 4-1 decision over Bowling Green. Akron then fell to eventual national champion Indiana in the NCAA tournament, 3-2 in double overtime.

Bowling Green is slated for second with 50 points after finishing fourth in the regular season a year ago and runner-up in the tournament, ending the school's run of consecutive MAC tournament titles at three. The Falcons will attempt to make a run at their sixth straight tournament finals appearance, but will have to do it without first-team all-MAC goalie Scott Vallow, who led the league with 10 shutouts and was second with a 0.87 goals against average.

The third selection in the preseason poll is Kentucky, which had 45 points. The Wildcats return two of the league's top defenders in first-team all-MAC choice Lee Baker and Ilkaa Jantti, the conference's Newcomer of the year in 1998.

Northern Illinois, which finished third in the regular season in 1998, is fourth with 36 points, one point ahead of Buffalo. Buffalo, fifth with 35 points, returns Steve Butcher, the league's top goal scorer (18) and point producer (43) last season. In their first season of competition with the MAC, the Bulls advanced to the semifinals of the league tournament, dropping a 3-2 decision in triple overtime to Akron.

Marshall, which returns two of the MAC's top nine scorers for the 1999 season, is tabbed for sixth with 31 pojnts. Rounding out the rest of the preseason poll is Eastern Michigan at seventh (16) and Western Michigan eighth (11).

1. Akron (8) -- 64 total points
2. Bowling Green -- 50
3. Kentucky -- 45
4. Northern Illinois -- 36
5. Buffalo -- 35
6. Marshall -- 31
7. Eastern Michigan -- 16
8. Western Michigan -- 11

() indicates first-place votes