The Georgia Southern men's soccer team has been picked to finish second in the Sun Belt Conference for the upcoming 2017 season in a preseason poll of the league's coaches, released today.
The Eagles received 27 points in the poll and one first-place vote, picked behind only Coastal Carolina, who received 33 points and four first-place votes. The two teams tied for the Sun Belt Conference regular season title in 2017.
Georgia State was picked to finish third with 25 points, including one first-place vote. Hartwick (19 points), Appalachian State (16 points) and Howard (6 points) round out the poll.
"The Sun Belt is a growing leage in NCAA Division I men's soccer, and all of the programs know how competitive it is," Head Coach John Murphy said. "Every team is capable of beating each other, so each game is a unique challenge. 2017 will be no different.
"I am also looking forward to how all of us in the Sun Belt compete in our non-league contests. Our viability as a league will grow with everyone's improved success in these games. I wish all of my Sun Belt colleagues the very best this Fall."
The Eagles finished the 2016 season with an 8-8-3 overall record, with a 3-1-1 mark in the Sun Belt. The regular season title was the first conference title for Georgia Southern in program history.
Georgia Southern will open up its 2017 regular season this weekend, traveling to Charleston, S.C., for the Aaron Olitsky Tournament, hosted by the College of Charleston. The Eagles will open up action on Friday, facing Monmouth at 5 p.m.
Pair of Eagles are preseason All-Sun Belt
Georgia Southern junior defender Emil Laursen claimed Sun Belt Conference Preseason Defensive Player of the Year honors to highlight the Eagle accolades with today's release of the 2017 Sun Belt Preseason Men's Soccer Individual Awards.
Laursen, who was the league's Defensive Player of the Year as a sophomore in 2016, was also named to the Preseason All-Sun Belt Team. Senior forward Blake Wilson was also selected to the team.
A junior from Silkeborg, Denmark, Laursen is the second Eagle to be selected as the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, joining goalkeeper Jack Falle (2015). Laursen was an NSCAA All-Southeast Region honoree last season and a first-team All-Conference honoree, anchoring a back lie for Georgia Southern that — with three freshmen and one sophomore starting — held opponents to a 1.21 GAA in his 14 appearances. Laursen also tallied three goals on the season, all game-winners.
Wilson, meanwhile, earns the preseason All-Conference honor after tallying eight goals and two assists for 18 points in 2016. The Tampa, Fla., native ranked third in the Sun Belt in goals scored and points, earning first-team All-Conference honors.
"We're pleased that both Blake and Emil were recognized in this pre-season all conference team, as well as our second place finish in the coaches poll. But the hard work is about to begin for all of us as we look to live up to these exceptions."