The NAIA released its Men's Soccer Preseason Top 25 Poll on Wednesday, and Auburn Montgomery is ranked ninth in the nation to start the year. The Warhawks had the largest increase in the poll from the end of last season, as they were voted 19th in the final poll of 2011.
AUM received 380 total points, which is voted on by a panel of head coaches from across the NAIA. Earlier in the summer, they were projected to finish second in the preseason Southern States Athletic Conference coaches poll.
"It's always an honor to be ranked that high in the poll," Head Coach Wulf Koch said. "It's been a while since we've been in the top 10, but I think the coaches recognized the way we finished last season. We had a very good run in the conference playoffs, and unfortunately we weren't able to make it to the national championship tournament, but we have a lot of good players returning and I also like our new recruiting class."
AUM was a penalty shootout away from reaching the NAIA tournament last year, falling to Southern Poly in the SSAC championship game. The team finished 2011 with a 12-5-4 record (8-2-2 SSAC).
The Warhawks were one of five members of the SSAC to crack the top 25, joining Southern Poly (No. 3), William Carey (No. 5), Mobile (No. 12) and Belhaven (No. 17). No other conference had more than three teams in the poll.
Defending NAIA champion Lindsey Wilson received the top spot in the poll, with 529 points and all 19 first-place votes. The Blue Raiders finished 2011 undefeated with a 23-0-0 record. AUM will travel to Lindsey Wilson for a regular-season matchup on Sep. 8.
A new poll will be issued by the NAIA each week during the regular season. The next rankings are released on Sep. 4.
2012 AUM Warhawks Men's Soccer Team
Reporting by Tim Lutz