ASC men's preview
Hardin-Simmons University has been predicted to win the American Southwest Conference men's soccer championship, it was announced by the ASC office on Wednesday (Aug. 18) after a vote of the league's head coaches and sports information directors. Taking preseason player of the year honors were Mississippi College's Michael Cooper and Hardin-Simmons' Chris O'Brien.
Hardin-Simmons, which went 12-3-6 overall (8-1-3 ASC) last season, totaled 262 points and 12 of the possible 28 first-place votes to be the favorites in the annual preseason poll. Head coach Dan Hager's Cowboys are coming off a season in which they won their seventh overall ASC title and reached the third round of the NCAA Division III Men's Soccer Championship. HSU's postseason run was the longest of any men's soccer team in ASC history.
The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, which went 14-4-1 overall (11-2-0 ASC) en route to its first ASC regular season title and at-large NCAA playoff berth, was picked as the runner-up with 349 points and nine first-place votes. 2008 ASC champion University of Texas at Tyler was predicted for a third-place finish with 305 points and two top-spot votes. The University of the Ozarks, which won the league crown in 2003, received 293 points to land in the fourth-place spot. Mississippi College tallied 284 points and two first-place votes to be in the fifth position, while two-time league champion University of Texas at Dallas had 252 points and a top-spot vote to round out what would be the league's six teams to qualify for the ASC Championship Tournament.
Schreiner University had 236 points and a first-place vote to be the seventh-place pick. Howard Payne University (222 pts.), 2002 ASC winner Texas Lutheran University (163 pts.) and East Texas Baptist University (160 pts.) rounded out the top 10 spots. LeTourneau University (117 pts.) was eleventh, followed by Concordia University Texas (85 pts.), McMurry University (66 pts.) and Louisiana College (46 pts.). McMurry garnered the final first-place vote.
Cooper (Vicksburg, MS / Hinds CC), a senior forward, was named ASC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year. He led the conference in 2009 with 43 points, 20 goals, six game-winning scores and five hat tricks. Cooper also led the ASC with 87 shots taken to earn offensive player of the year honors.
O'Brien (Austin, TX / Westwood HS), a senior defender, was dubbed ASC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. He spearheaded a unit that allowed just 14 goals over 21 games and posted 10 shutouts. O'Brien also scored three goals in his defensive player of the year season and guided the Cowboys to an ASC title and the third round of the NCAA playoffs.
Cooper and O'Brien were also both first team all-ASC selections last year.
The 2010 ASC season -- the 15th in league history -- begins as early as September 1. The six-team, single elimination ASC tournament is slated for November 5-7 at the site of the regular season champion and an automatic berth into the NCAA Division III Men's Soccer Championship will be on the line.