RICHMOND, Va. – The VCU Men's Soccer team was selected second in the Atlantic 10 Conference Preseason Poll, the league announced Tuesday. In addition, junior midfielder Siad Haji (Manchester, N.H.) was named to the preseason All-Conference Team.
The Rams received 149 points and four first place votes from league coaches. Fordham was tabbed preseason favorite with 159 points and six first place votes. UMass (144) and Rhode Island (124) rounded out the top four. Although VCU has lost seven seniors from last season, its potential was not overlooked by the coaches around the league.
"I think it says a lot about our program that we can lose seven seniors, all of whom started between 40-65 games for us over the last four years, and still be picked as one of the favorites in the league. I think it's going to be another very strong year for the A-10, and I can't wait to see how the season plays out," said VCU Head Coach David Giffard.
Haji, the No. 19 ranked player in the nation according to Top Drawer Soccer, scored two goals and was credited with eight assists in 19 matches last season for the Rams. He has also been called up to the U.S. Men's National Team for the U-20 2019 World Cup.
"Siad is one of the top players in the country, so it's nice for him to get recognized after being snubbed at the end of 2017, mostly because of how many strong seniors we had in the group," he said.
The Rams return 18 players from the 2017 squad that finished 12-7, reached the A-10 Championship Match and received the No. 16 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. Sophomores Ulrik Edvarsen (Bergen, Norway) and Mario Sequeira (San Jose, Costa Rica) also return for VCU after earning All-Atlantic 10 Rookie Team honors. They were both named to Top Drawer Soccer's Top 100 Freshman list last season. Edvarsen also earned National All-Freshman Team honors from College Soccer News.
VCU looks to fill the void left by the graduation of 2017 A-10 Player of the Year Rafael Andrade Santos and All-Atlantic 10 Second Team selections Francesco Amorosino and Luc Fatton.
The Rams kick off their 40thseason on Friday, Aug. 24 against Georgie Southern at 5 p.m. at Sports Backers Stadium.
ATLANTIC 10 CONFERENCE PRESEASON POLL (First place votes in parenthesis)
1-Fordham (6) 159
2-VCU (4) 149
3-Massachusetts (2) 144
4-Rhode Island 124
5-Dayton (1) 117
6-Saint Louis 106
7-George Washington 102
9-George Mason 49
10-La Salle 46
11-St. Bonaventure 43
12-Saint Joseph's 39