BY FHSU SPORTS INFORMATION
RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. – The Great American Conference released the GAC/MIAA Preseason Men’s Soccer Coaches’ Poll on Thursday (Aug. 11). On the heels of winning the GAC/MIAA Tournament last year and making a run to the national quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament, Fort Hays State tops the 2022 preseason conference poll.
Fort Hays State received 34 votes and four first-place votes to lead the poll, while 2021 GAC/MIAA Regular Season champion Southern Nazarene is close behind with 31 votes and two first-place votes. The regular season title last year came down to the final match prior to postseason play, a winner-take-all contest that Southern Nazarene escaped with a 1-0 victory. Fort Hays State was 8-3-1 in conference, while Southern Nazarene finished 9-3. But Fort Hays State had a strong overall resume once again last year that helped them extend the longest current streak of appearances in the NCAA Division II national tournament to nine, dating back to the 2012 season. FHSU finished 15-6-2 overall in 2021.
The Tigers have already been tabbed No. 7 nationally in the United Soccer Coaches Top 25 Poll to start the 2022 season. They return four all-conference performers from a year ago in Blake Arndt, Kieran Brown, Haruya Iwasaki, and Ethan Doud. Arndt was the 2020-21 GAC/MIAA Men’s Soccer Offensive Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year in a shortened spring season, then went on to lead the conference in points (30) and goals (13) in 2022. Arndt is among a string of five straight seasons that FHSU has produced the conference offensive player of the year. That list includes Derick Gonzalez (MIAA 2017), Santiago Agudelo (2018 MIAA, 2019 GAC/MIAA), and Taisei Arima (GAC/MIAA 2021).
The Tiger men will play six non-conference matches before jumping into GAC/MIAA play on September 15 against Rogers State. That will be the start of 12-straight conference matches to finish out the 18-match regular season schedule. The regular season opens on August 25 when FHSU plays host to CSU-Pueblo at FHSU Soccer Stadium in Hays.
Below is the 2022 GAC/MIAA Men’s Soccer Preseason Coaches’ Poll.
1. Fort Hays State (4) – 34
2. Southern Nazarene (2) – 31
3. Rogers State (1) – 27
4. Northeastern State – 20
5. Harding – 18
6. Newman – 10
7. Ouachita Baptist – 7