MACON, Ga. - The Stetson men's soccer team was picked
third in the Atlantic Sun Conference Preseason Coaches Poll, as announced by
the league on Thursday. Additionally,
seniors Jonathan Mendoza, Luis Ocejo, and Kai
Eckenrode were each recognized as individuals by the
Following an Atlantic Sun Tournament semifinals loss on
penalties in 2011, Stetson was selected to finish third in the conference in
the 2012 preseason poll with 61 points.
The Hatters finished just behind last year's finalists, ETSU and FGCU,
which took first and second, respectively.
The Bucs, runners-up a year ago, totaled 78 points and six first place
votes, while last season's league champion Eagles earned 75 points and the
remaining three first place nods.
"I never want to be worried about polls," Head Coach T.
Logan Fleck said regarding the announcement.
"We always pay more attention to what's going on inside the circle of
our team. How we play has always been
the paramount thing since I came here.
My biggest thing is to get the players to believe they can do something
that's never been done. It will take a lot of hard work, but we love every bit
Stetson placed higher than the other six teams in the
conference. Mercer was just behind the
Hatters in fourth with 53 points. Jacksonville and Lipscomb
tied for fifth with 36 points each, while USC Upstate earned 28 points and
placed seventh. North Florida and
newcomer to the league Northern Kentucky tied
for eighth with 19 points.
backed up his A-Sun Player of the Year accolades from last year with a
Preseason Player of the Year honor on Thursday.
The midfielder, who led the Hatters with 11 goals and five assists in
2011, was also named to the Preseason All-Atlantic Sun Team as one of three
"This is what he's worked so hard for," Fleck said of Mendoza. "We all know that Jonny is a special player,
and now he's taken it to a level that very few people probably thought he ever would. Jonny's a team player, though, and he wants
Stetson to get further than it ever has in the NCAA Tournament this year. That's one of the things that makes him such
a special player. I'm very excited for
him, because he's put in all the hard work, and now it's time for him to go out
and show why he is so special."
Just as he did at the end of last season, Ocejo complimented
by earning Preseason Defensive Player of the Year honors from the conference on
Thursday. The senior captain was
selected by the coaches as the top defender in the league and was one of five
defenders selected to the Preseason All-Atlantic Sun Team.
"Luis is the bolt of our defense," Fleck said. "He's very calm under pressure, and he's somebody
that we've built a solid defense around.
He has led this team and played extremely hard for his teammates as a
captain. Luis doesn't accept anything
but the very best from the rest of the team, because that's what he puts into
it every day."
Finally, Eckenrode was one of three forwards selected to the
Preseason All-Atlantic Sun Conference Team.
The senior scored four goals and tallied six assists in 2011, and will
help lead the Hatter offense this fall.
"He's our rhythm player, deciding whether we go forward or
go wide," Fleck said of Eckenrode. "He
gets other players involved all the time by switching the ball. Kai is technically very clean, and he can
strike a ball on a dime. When he has
confidence there's not a lot Kai doesn't think he can do, and we like him in
that state of mind."
Stetson opens the season with three road games, beginning on
August 25 at Penn
State. The Hatters return to DeLand for the home
opener at the newly renovated Stetson Soccer Complex on September 7 against
A-Sun opponent Jacksonville.