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Yellowjackets men’s soccer picked as unanimous preseason UMAC favorite

ST. PAUL, Minn. – (PRESS RELEASE) For the second consecutive season, the UW-Superior men’s soccer team has been picked as the preseason favorite in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference coaches poll, announced Tuesday.

The Yellowjackets were the unanimous choice to top the league for the first time after receiving all eight possible first-place votes and 64 points overall. With coaches unable to vote for their own teams, St. Scholastica earned the final first-place nod and 57 points to sit second in the poll.

UWS is coming off of a season in which it dropped its first two matches of 2018 before stringing together a 20-match unbeaten streak, going 19-0-1. The stretch included the first NCAA tournament victory in program history – a 2-1 first-round win over Augsburg on Nov. 10.

The ‘Jackets look to keep rolling into 2019 as the return 67 percent of their scoring offense from a year ago and the 2018 UMAC Defensive Player of the Year in A.J. Olson (Channhassen, Minn./Channhassen). He anchored a UMAC-leading defense that allowed 1.22 goals per game and 0.75 goals per game in conference play.

Also back is senior James Bruce (Gladstone, Mich./Gladstone), who was a United Soccer Coaches All-Region pick, along with being an all-UMAC first team selection and UMAC Tournament MVP last season. He led team with 16 goals, five assists for 37 points, ranking 21st nationally in goals and 30th in points.

The ‘Jackets also return two-time all-UMAC honoree senior Eric Watson (Thunder Bay, Ontario/Hammarskjold) (four goals, eight assists) and 2018 UMAC Freshman of the Year Blake Perry (Anoka, Minn./Anoka). The sophomore also earned a spot on the all-UMAC second team after scoring 10 goals and three assists in his first collegiate campaign.

In all, UWS brings back 21 players with collegiate playing experience at Superior and welcomes 11 newcomers.

Martin Luther was picked third in the poll with 41 points, followed by Minnesota Morris (38), Bethany Lutheran (33), Crown (26), North Central (18) and Northland (eight).

The ‘Jackets open the regular season this weekend with a pair of matches in Texas. They travel to Austin for an 8 p.m., contest in Sherman Friday, They are at Dallas in Irving for a 2 p.m., kickoff Sunday.

Matt Halverson

Sports Anchor and Reporter

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