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Aug. 8, 2012

IRVING, Texas – The South Carolina men’s soccer team, led by veteran head coach Mark Berson in his 35th season, was picked to finish first in the 2012 Conference USA Preseason Poll, while junior forward Bradlee Baladez was selected to the 13-member Men’s Soccer Preseason All-Conference Team for the second-consecutive season, as announced today by the league office.

2012 marks the first time the Gamecocks have been selected as the preseason favorite in the league. Their previous high mark was when the team was projected to finish second in 2006. The Gamecocks were the 2011 regular season co-champs of the league last year.

SMU was picked to finish second, followed by UCF, UAB, Memphis, Tulsa, Kentucky, Marshall and FIU. Memphis’ Mark Sherrod was tabbed as the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, while Marshall goalkeeper Daniel Winthrow earned Defensive Player of the Year honors.

South Carolina, who received votes in the NSCAA Preseason Top 25 poll earlier this week, led the team poll, garnering 65 total points and one first place vote to edge SMU (64 points, two first place votes) as the coaches’ preseason favorite. The tightly bunched poll results saw six teams receive at least one first place vote. Both the preseason team and poll are selected by the league’s nine head coaches.

Baladez paced the Gamecocks during his sophomore campaign with seven goals and five assists for 19 points. The Dallas, Texas, native tallied at least one point in all eight of South Carolina’s Conference USA matches, including two game-winning tallies, at UAB and versus Tulsa. Baladez was also selected to the All-Conference USA First Team in 2011.

The complete poll and team are listed below.

2012 Conference USA Preseason Men’s Soccer Poll
South Carolina 65 (1)
SMU 64 (2)
UCF 57 (1)
UAB 54 (3)
Memphis 50 (1)
Tulsa 40 (1)
Kentucky 29
Marshall 27
FIU 19

Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Mark Sherrod, F, Memphis

Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Daniel Withrow, GK, Marshall

2012 Preseason All-C-USA Men’s Soccer Team
Anthony Hobbs, D, FIU
Dylan Asher, D, Kentucky
Tom Jackson, M, Marshall
Anthony Virgara, M, Marshall
Daniel Withrow, GK, Marshall
Liam Collins, M, Memphis
Mark Sherrod, F, Memphis
Juan Castillo, F, SMU
Bradlee Baladez, F, South Carolina
Omar Mata, M, Tulsa
Reed Matte, D, UAB
McKauly Tulloch, F, UCF
Andrew Quintana, D, UCF