HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University men’s soccer team has been voted to finish second in the Big South this season, according to a poll of the league’s coaches, the conference announced on Tuesday. Junior defender Johnny Fenwick was tabbed as the co-Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.
Under second year head coach EJ O’Keeffe, the Panthers raced to an 11-4-4 mark in 2016 with a 5-1-2 record in conference play, good for a second place finish in the regular season. The squad was the only Big South team to defeat eventual champion Radford.
“We are excited about the 2017 season getting underway,” O’Keeffe said. “Our selection in the Big South preseason poll shows the respect that the other coaches have for our program. It’s now on us to put in the work and achieve our goals for the season.”
Fenwick has been a member of the Big South All-Conference team in his first two years on campus. He was tabbed a first team All-Big South performer in 2016 after starting all 19 games and securing the Panthers’ defense. He also contributed seven points on two goals and three assists.
“Johnny has put in a lot of work over the last year,” O’Keeffe said. “I know he is humbled to have the coaches in the league hold him in such high regard. We look forward to him being an anchor for us on our back line.”
High Point returns 18 letterwinners from last year’s squad. Among the returners is defending Big South Freshman of the Year Siggi Benonysson, who was the runner-up in Preseason Attacking Player of the Year voting.
Big South Preseason Poll Breakdown
Defending regular season and tournament champion Radford (79 points) was selected as the preseason favorite, garnering seven of the nine first place votes. The Panthers (69) earned the other two first place votes. Liberty (52) was voted third, followed by Longwood (45) in fourth place. Campbell and Winthrop each earned 43 points to finish in a tie for fifth.
The coaches tabbed UNC Asheville (35) seventh, followed by Presbyterian College (27) and Gardner-Webb (12).
BIG SOUTH PRESEASON POLL
RANK TEAM POINTS (1st) 1. Radford 79 (7) 2. High Point 69 (2) 3. Liberty 52 4. Longwood 45 T5. Campbell 43 T5. Winthrop 43 7. UNC Asheville 35 8. Presbyterian College 27 9. Gardner-Webb 12
BIG SOUTH PRESEASON ATTACKING PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Tresor Mbuyu, Liberty
BIG SOUTH CO-PRESEASON DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Johnny Fenwick, High Point
Fraser Colmer, Radford
The Panthers open their exhibition season on Saturday at UNCW at 6 p.m. HPU will host Greensboro College in an exhibition on Thursday, Aug. 17 at 4 p.m. before officially opening the season at home on Friday, Aug. 25 at 4 p.m. against Howard.