Men's Soccer With High Expectations For 2012
The Broncos kick off their 2012 campaign with a home exhibition match against DePauw Saturday, Aug. 18 and officially begin their regular season against NAIA opponent Marygrove on Friday, Aug. 24. WMU hosts a total of nine home games this year, including MAC contests against West Virginia (added as a men's soccer MAC affiliate member in 2012), Florida Atlantic, Hartwick and Northern Illinois.
Western Michigan ended last season with a 1-0 loss to Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship game after upsetting then-defending national champion Akron in penalty kicks in the tournament semifinals. WMU is picked to finish fourth in the conference in this year's preseason poll.
"It's nice to be recognized by the fellow MAC teams as a side that they are expecting to finish in the top half of the conference," said head coach Stu Riddle. "This was probably due in large part because we have appeared in back to back championship matches - but as we know it really counts for nothing unless we can match this expectation with on-field results."
Akron was predicted to take the MAC regular season and tournament crown, while West Virginia was slated second, followed by Northern Illinois. Coming in behind Western Michigan in spots fifth through eighth, respectively, was Hartwick, Bowling Green, Buffalo and Florida Atlantic.
The Broncos return 12 players from last year's roster, including seniors Yllson Asani, Darren Jones, Luis Lemus and Shane Lyons. Asani, Jones and Lemus have started since arriving in Kalamazoo and Lyons has led the team in scoring the last two seasons after transferring to WMU in 2010. Twelve newcomers, including a handful of international players, will look to break onto the scene this year.
MAC Preseason Poll - Predicted Order of Finish
1. Akron (62 Votes)
2. West Virginia (53)
3. Northern Illinois (51)
4. Western Michigan (32)
5. Hartwick (31)
6. Bowling Green (25)
7. Buffalo (23)
8. Florida Atlantic (11)
Predicted Tournament Champion
Akron (6 votes)