SIUE men's soccer has been tabbed as the team to beat in the 2015 Missouri Valley Conference race, while senior Justin Bilyeu and junior Austin Ledbetter were each named to the All-MVC preseason team.
Following an MVC Tournament title in 2014, SIUE earned three first-place votes and 43 total points in a poll of the league's head coaches released today by league office.
The Cougars edged last season's regular season champions, Missouri State, which earned 39 points, and also garnered three first-place votes. Loyola came in third with 38 points. Bradley was chosen fourth. The Braves picked up the one remaining first-place vote and finished with 27 points.
Drake (26 points), Evansville (15) and Central Arkansas (9) rounded out the bottom three in the voting.
Bilyeu was a second team All-MVC pick following the 2014 season in which he scored three goals and added two assists to finish fifth on the team in scoring with seven points. Ledbetter appeared in 20 of the Cougars' 21 games a season ago and added an assist from his spot on SIUE's defense. Ledbetter was an honorable mention selection in the MVC in 2014.
SIUE meets Milwaukee in the team's final preseason match Friday at 7 p.m. at Korte Stadium. The Cougars open the regular season Friday Aug. 28 at Bowling Green.
MVC Pre-Season Poll
Points (First-place votes)
MVC Preseason All-Conference Team
Alec Bartlett, DU
Grant Bell, BU
Justin Bilyeu, SIUE
Elliot Collier, LUC
Tim Dobrowolski, LUC
Mark Anthony Gonzalez, UE
Emmerich Hoegg, MSU
Austin Ledbetter, SIUE
Eric Schoendorf, LUC
Mueng Sunday, DU
Kyle Thomson, LUC
James Wypych, DU