Rebels Picked Second In WAC Preseason Poll
Aug. 25, 2014
LAS VEGAS (UNLVRebels.com) -
UNLV received its highest-ever preseason placing on Monday, as the Rebels were predicted to finish second in the 2014 Western Athletic Conference men’s soccer preseason poll, which was released on Monday by the league office. The Rebels also placed a conference-best four players on the preseason All-WAC squad, while senior goalkeeper Ryan Harding was named the Preseason Defender of the Year.
This is the first time the Rebels have ever been selected to finish in the top two in a preseason conference poll, as the Big West did not conduct preseason polls in the 1980s. UNLV received a total of 68 points, eight behind defending champion Seattle, and also were given one of nine first place votes, while Seattle had seven and Grand Canyon one. Seattle was picked to defend its title despite placing only one player on the preseason team. Bakersfield is third in the poll with 58 points, San Jose State fourth with 50, and Air Force placed fifth with 45. Rounding out the poll is UMKC in sixth (39), Houston Baptist and Incarnate Word tied for seventh (33), Grand Canyon ninth (31) and Utah Valley in 10th (17).
UNLV was the only team to place four players on the team, while UMKC, Bakersfield and San Jose State had two each, and Houston Baptist and Seattle split the final two spots. From the Rebels on the preseason squad is Harding, senior forward Salvador Bernal, and juniors Rodrigo Fuentes (midfielder) and Bradley Kamdem (defender). Bernal is bidding to become the first player in UNLV history to be named first-team all-conference all four years of his career, and enters his senior season with 18 goals and 49 points. Harding led the WAC last year in GAA with 1.22 and also posted four shutouts, all in league play. Fuentes was the team's leading scorer a year ago with six goals and 16 points, both of which ranked him in the top 10 in the WAC, while Kamdem started 16 games for the Rebels on the backline, helping UNLV give up a league-low 30 total goals.
Overall the Rebels return nine starters from a year ago, while they rank fifth in the nation for most combined career starts among returnees with 345. UNLV also returns 79% of its goal scoring from a year ago.
UNLV opens the season on the road for the second straight year, beginning with Friday's contest against Western Illinois in the Hotels At Grand Prairie Classic. That game will start at 2:30 pm (PT) in Peoria, Ill., while on Sunday, Aug. 31, the Rebels will meet tournament host Bradley at 12:30 pm (PT).
2014 WAC Preseason Men’s Soccer Coaches’ Poll
Place Team (1st place votes) Votes
1. Seattle (7) 76
2. UNLV (1) 68
3. Bakersfield 58
4. San Jose State 50
5. Air Force 45
6. UMKC 39
7. Houston Baptist 33
Incarnate Word 33
9. Grand Canyon (1) 31
10. Utah Valley 17
2014 Preseason All-WAC Team
Player Year Pos. School
Tobenna Uzo So. F Houston Baptist
Jordan Rideout Sr. F UMKC
Salvador Bernal Sr. F UNLV
Rory Knibbs So. F San Jose State
Christian Duarte Jr. MF Bakersfield
Joe Masumiya Sr. MF Bakersfield
Tayna Chiaparro Sr. MF UMKC
Rodrigo Fuentes Jr. MF UNLV
Bradley Kamdem Jr. D UNLV
Andrew Kelly Sr. D San Jose State
Kyle Bjornethun So. D Seattle
Ryan Harding Sr. GK UNLV
Preseason Offensive Player of the Year
Tobenna Uzo, So., F, Houston Baptist
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year
Ryan Harding, Sr., GK, UNLV