KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The University of Tampa men's soccer team will enter the season ranked at No. 23 in the United Soccer Coaches NCAA Division II National Preseason Poll. This is the second consecutive season in which the Spartans have been ranked in the preseason poll, as Tampa began the 2017 campaign at No. 8.
The Spartans finished last season at No. 25, compiling a record of 9-4-3 with points secured against four ranked opponents. There will be an influx of new talent as 21 newcomers make their way onto the 2018 roster, with eight returnees. Jake Richards returns for Tampa as the veteran goalkeeper, a two-year letterwinner. Richards, a junior from England, made 13 starts and registered five shutouts. He finished the year in net at 7-2-3 and recorded 49 saves (74%). The offense will lose the top three goalscorers and the leading returner from last year, Juancho Fernandez, netted three goals in 16 appearances.
Tampa is one of three teams in the Sunshine State Conference to receive national recognition in the preseason poll. Lynn begins the season at No. 2, and Palm Beach Atlantic will open at No. 9. Last year in the regular season, UT tied Lynn and PBA in double-overtime contests. However, the Spartans secured a shootout victory over Lynn in the SSC semifinals. Ultimately, Tampa won the SSC Conference Tournament after finishing second in the regular season and advanced to the NCAA South Regional.
Adrian Bush kicks off his 14th season at the helm, this will be the seventh time his team begins in the preseason poll. Bush has led UT to seven NCAA appearances and back-to-back postseason berths.