Aug. 2, 2012
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - College Cup runner-up Charlotte was picked to capture the 2012 Atlantic 10 Conference Men's Soccer Championship, in voting conducted among the league's 16 head coaches. Two-time defending A-10 Champion Xavier and league newcomer VCU round out the top three, respectively.
Vying for its first Conference title, Charlotte returns nine starters among 12 letterwinners from last season's squad that made a historic run to the College Cup final and finished the regular season 16-5-4 overall and 6-1-2 in league play. The Niners, who spent the entire 2011 campaign ranked, finished a school-record No. 2 in the final NSCAA Coaches Poll. The men's soccer team was the first Charlotte team - in any sport - to reach an NCAA Championship. New head coach Kevin Langan welcomes back a talent-rich squad anchored by reigning A-10 Rookie of the Year and one of the Conference's top point-producers, Giuseppe Gentile (22pts, 10g, 2a), along with a pair of All-Atlantic 10 picks from a year ago in senior midfielder Donnie Smith and redshirt-junior midfielder Tyler Gibson.
Xavier, looking to become only the third active A-10 school to claim three Championship crowns (Rhode Island, Dayton) and the first to win three straight, returns its entire starting lineup from last year's squad that went 12-5-4 overall and 4-3-2 against A-10 foes. The Musketeers' returning players account for 26 of 31 goals scored and 35 of 37 assists tallied in 2011. Among the top returnees are senior forward Luke Spencer (7g, 6a), junior midfielder Gino Depaoli (6g, 7a), junior defender Nick Hagglund (1g, 3a), and senior goalkeeper Justin Marshall (0.89 GAA). Xavier made its second consecutive NCAA Championship appearance last year, before dropping a heartbreaking, 2-1, decision at West Virginia.
VCU, under the direction of third-year head coach Dave Giffard, enters its first year of competition in the A-10 this fall. The Rams went 11-9 overall a year ago and 6-5 in the Colonial Athletic Association. VCU welcomes back two All-CAA selections in sophomore defender Juan Monge Solano and junior forward Jason Johnson. Monge Solano served as a force on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball for the Rams, while Johnson led the team in points (23), goals (11) and game-winning goals (three).
Charlotte, Xavier and VCU are followed by Saint Louis (fourth), Fordham (fifth) and George Washington (sixth). Newcomer Butler and La Salle are tied for seventh, while Duquesne is ninth, Dayton is 10th and Temple is 11th. Rhode Island, which has claimed a league-best six Championship titles is 12th in the predicted order of finish, followed by Massachusetts (13th), Richmond (14th), St. Bonaventure (15th) and Saint Joseph's (16th).
The newly expanded eight-team A-10 Men's Soccer Championship will be held Nov. 8-11 at Charlotte's Transamerica Field. The 49ers will host the Championship for the second time in three years and third time overall since joining the Atlantic 10 during the 2005-06 academic year.
2012 A-10 Men's Soccer Predicted Order of Finish (2011 record)
1. Charlotte (16-5-4/6-1-2 A-10)
2. Xavier (12-5-4/4-3-2 A-10)
3. VCU (11-9/6-5 CAA)
4. Saint Louis (6-10-1/4-5 A-10)
5. Fordham (11-7-1/7-2 A-10)
6. George Washington (10-6-3/7-2 A-10)
7. Butler (7-8-3/2-4-2 Horizon)
La Salle (7-9-4/4-2-3 A-10)
9. Duquesne (7-9-2/4-4-1 A-10)
10. Dayton (5-13-1/4-4-1 A-10)
11. Temple (9-10/5-4 A-10)
12. Rhode Island (7-10-1/4-4-1 A-10)
13. Massachusetts (4-13-2/2-5-2 A-10)
14. Richmond (5-12-1/4-5 A-10)
15. St. Bonaventure (4-12-3/0-7-2 A-10)
16. Saint Joseph's (2-15-0/1-8 A-10)