MELBOURNE, Fla. (Men’s Soccer) – Much of an afterthought prior to the start of last season, the Florida Tech Panthers are certainly on coaches’ radars across the Sunshine State Conference entering 2015. After ripping off 11 victories and coming oh-so-close to a league title a year ago, Florida Tech has been selected to finish third in the SSC Men’s Soccer Preseason Poll.
“I think the preseason poll is a reflection of last year,” said Panther head coach and 2014 SSC Co-Coach of the YearRobin Chan. “It just shows that people are paying attention to the program in a positive way, which is always good. I think anytime you get ranked a little higher it gives you a little extra added pressure to achieve those expectations, but we don’t look at the polls too much at this stage. It’s all on paper at this point until we start playing games.”
Chan and his staff have plenty to be excited about with the regular season looming just 10 days away. The Panthers return nine starters from a club that reeled off the program’s highest win total since 1997, including four all-conference performers. Among those, forward Adin Kavara is back after notching 12 goals as a sophomore along with Aussie goalkeeper and three-year starter Mitch Thorn. With the roster intact and the addition of newcomers such as Jan Hlavica and Christian Stewart, Chan believes this team could be his deepest yet heading into his 11th season in Crimson and Gray.
“I think the boys all know that we have good competition for places, and that’s always good for the training environment,” said Chan. “They’re pushing each other and as long as everyone stays with a team mentality and remains focused on the ultimate goals that we have then the spirit will be there.”
Through its first two preseason matches, Florida Tech’s glaring potential has already been on display having outscored Warner and NCAA Division I Jacksonville by a combined 7-1 mark.
Defending National Champion Lynn topped the poll, receiving seven out of a possible nine first-place votes, while Saint Leo’s 57 total votes landed it runner-up. Both programs earned NCAA Tournament bids in 2014.