LEBANON, Tenn. – Cumberland was ranked 19th in the NAIA Men’s Soccer Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll, the national office announced late Tuesday. CU opens the season at home August 26 against West Virginia Tech at Lindsey Donnell Stadium-Kirk Field.
The Phoenix finished second in the regular season and claimed its first Mid-South Conference Tournament championship on penalties to earn the league’s automatic berth into the NAIA Championships last season. CU lost in double overtime to Southeastern University in the NAIA Championship Opening Round but set a school record with an 18-2-1 mark in 2015.
Cumberland entered the NAIA Men’s Soccer Coaches’ Top 25 Poll the first week of October after starting the year with 10 consecutive victories. The Phoenix rose as high as No. 6 in the national rankings and tied for 11th heading into the national tournament before finishing the year 19th.
First-year head coach Rory O’Connor, the program’s assistant the last two seasons, returns 16 letterwinners and nine starters, including Second Team All-American Sondre Risa as well as four other All-Conference performers – Brian McNamara, Elliot Goodwin, Bennet Strutz and Marty Owens.
McNamara led the club with 14 goals while Armstrong ranked 20th nationally with 11 assists and Owens registered nine goals and nine assists. Strutz recorded a 0.93 goals-against-average with 12 shutouts and allowed more than one goal just once over the final 16 matches of the campaign.
Cumberland is scheduled to face three teams in the Preseason Top 25 Poll, including fourth-ranked Lindenwood-Belleville (October 5), No. 12 Campbellsville University (October 11) and 23rd-ranked Lindsey Wilson (October 18). West Virginia Tech is the first team in the Receiving Votes category and Bryan College (September 27) also is Receiving Votes.