FREELAND, Mich. – The Calvin men's soccer team is the unanimous favorite to repeat as MIAA champions in 2018, as the Knights garnered all seven possible first-place votes in a preseason poll of Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association men's soccer head coaches. Calvin's seven points put the Knights in front of second place Adrian (18 points) and Kalamazoo and Hope, both tied for third with 20 points.
The preseason poll for MIAA men's soccer awards one point for a first-place vote, two points for a second-place vote, et cetera. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own programs.
Kalamazoo received one first-place vote in their tie with Hope for third, while Albion (35 points) surpassed Alma (36 points) and Trine (39 points), respectively, for fifth place. Olivet (49 points) concluded the eight-team poll.
Calvin (21-1-1, 13-0-1 in MIAA in 2017) was unbeaten during the 2017 regular season, only to suffer their lone loss of the campaign in the Third Round of the NCAA Championship last fall. Despite graduating key All-MIAA performers, the Knights return first-team All-MIAA selections Bobby McCaw (Sr., F, Dubuque, Iowa), Jacob Witte (Sr., M, Grand Rapids, Mich.), Jacob Lyon (Jr., M, Holt, Mich.), Hunter Olson (Jr., M, Canton, Mich.), and 2017 MIAA Most Valuable Player, Trent Vegter (Sr., D, Hudsonville, Mich.).
Adrian (11-6-2, 9-3-2) advanced to the MIAA Tournament title game last fall, and the Bulldogs are predicted to again be a top team in the MIAA. The Bulldogs return first-team All-MIAA forward Jordan Miller (So., F, Toledo, Ohio) and first-team All-MIAA defender Justin Tobin (So., D, Midland, Mich.) to go with second-team All-MIAA picks Tad Davis (Sr., M/F, Trenton, Mich.) and Brandon Katona (Sr., F, Dearborn, Mich.).
Kalamazoo (8-8-2, 7-6-1) features second-team All-MIAA honoree Nick Kraeuter (Jr., M, Jackson, Mich.), who returns to aid the 2018 Hornets; the two-year starter was a key figure in Kalamazoo finishing third in the MIAA standings last year. Headlining the Hornets' non-conference schedule is a Sept. 5 date at No. 2 North Park.
Hope (7-10-2, 6-6-2) will look to Isaac Braak (Jr., M, Grand Haven, Mich.), a first-team All-MIAA selection last fall, for impact on the attack this season. Joining Braak are second-team All-MIAA honorees Christian Dault (Jr., F, Grand Haven, Mich.), Sam Allbritten (Sr., D, Warsaw, Ind.) and James Reymann (Sr., D, Columbus, Ohio).
The 2018 MIAA men's soccer season begins Friday, Aug. 31 as seven of eight teams take to the pitch in non-conference play, with Albion, Calvin, Hope, and Olivet hosting home contests. October 3 marks the start of the MIAA single-rotation schedule, a change from the previous double-round robin setup in previous seasons. The 2018 MIAA Men's Soccer Tournament, which will now feature a six-team bracket, starts Saturday, Oct. 27 with first-round action; the title game is set for Saturday, Nov. 3 at the highest remaining seed.