By Jessica Jackson
CHICKASHA – After back-to-back quarterfinal appearances, it’s no surprise the Drovers rank seventh nationally in the NAIA 2012 Men’s Soccer Coaches’ Preseason Poll, which was released Tuesday.
USAO is the only Sooner Athletic Conference team to appear in the Top 25. Lubbock Christian and Oklahoma Baptist, however, did receive votes. The Drovers topped the SAC Preseason Poll.
The Drovers open the season at home in what is potentially the team’s toughest game of the year: No. 2 Baker College. The Drovers will kick off at 5 p.m. Aug. 24 at Drover Pitch.
But it doesn’t get much easier from there. Their second game will be in Tennessee at a neutral site against Hastings College of Nebraska. While Hastings isn’t ranked in the preseason poll, they knocked off the Drovers in the 2011 Quarterfinals and went on to be NAIA Runners Up.
The Drovers graduated some crucial players last year, and head coach Jimmy Hampton said they have added recruits to fill in the gaps but the team will have to fight tough to remain highly ranked.
USAO ended the 2011 season at 18-5, ranked No. 8. The NAIA’s next poll will be released Sept. 4.
Fall classes begin at USAO on Aug. 27.
Live stats for all home Drover games, including the battle against No. 2 Baker College, will be available on USAO’s website, usao.edu/sports/live-stats.
Photo: USAO Sports Information Department
Jessica Jackson is the Sports Information Director at USAO.