PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- The University of Cincinnati men's soccer team, which captured its first BIG EAST Championship in 2006, was picked to finish fourth in 2007 in a poll of league coaches. The Bearcats finished 11-6-2 overall last season and earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Championships.
The Bearcats earned 79 points and a pair of first-place votes in the poll, finishing just behind USF (81 points) and Rutgers (90 points). St. John's, the 2006 BIG EAST Tournament champions, were tabbed to win the 2007 Red Division title.
"We lost a lot of players from last year's team due to graduation," head coach Hylton Dayes said. "The fact that we are chosen in the top half of our division shows that we are gaining respect within the BIG EAST. Our division is deep and talented, but our motto has always been `It's not where you start, it's where you finish.'"
Connecticut was chosen to win the Blue Division, with Notre Dame and West Virginia right behind.
Amir Ikner (Olathe, Kan./Blue Valley West) was named to the preseason All-BIG EAST team after earning second team all-conference and third team all-region honors in 2006. The senior central defender has started 45 of 46 matches in his career, scoring three goals and adding three assists.
Ikner is the second Bearcat to be named to the preseason all-conference team. Last season, Omar Cummings was a unanimous preseason all-BIG EAST choice as well as the preseason Offensive Player of the Year.
"We've known that Amir is a quality player," said Dayes. "He is an integral part of our team and we are pleased to see that he has been recognized as one of the best players in the BIG EAST."
The 2007 BIG EAST Men's Soccer Championship will feature the top 12 of the league's 16 teams. Selection and seeding are based on regular season conference records. The top six teams in each division, seeded by conference point total, qualify for the conference championship. The top two teams in each division earn a first-round bye to the quarterfinals. The first-round and quarterfinal games will be held on the campuses of the higher seeded teams. First round games will be held on Nov. 7, with the quarterfinals following on Nov. 10.
The University of Connecticut will serve as host for the semifinals (Nov. 16) and the championship game (Nov. 18). The champion receives the league's automatic bid to the 48-team NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Championship.
College Sports Television (CSTV) will air both semifinal games live. The championship game will be broadcast on CSTV and select BIG EAST regional television outlets.