Men’s soccer picked to finish first in A-Sun Preseason Poll
Senior midfielder Stefan Runeman is one of three JU players on the preseason all-conference team.
Senior midfielder Stefan Runeman is one of three JU players on the preseason all-conference team.
The Dolphins’ recent success has created new found expectations around the league as the JU men’s soccer team was selected to finish first and win the tournament title in the 2009 Atlantic Sun preseason coaches’ poll.

The Dolphins, who have won a conference title in each of the last two seasons, took the top spot with 92 points (including six first-place votes). Campbell was selected second with 85 points and a pair of first place votes, while Lipscomb (78), Stetson (72) and Belmont (60) made up the rest of the top five. Florida Gulf Coast, East Tennessee State, North Florida, Mercer and USC Upstate rounded out the rest of the poll.

In 2008, JU hit both of its preseason predictions as they finished second in the regular season and won the tournament title by rallying in two matches to earn the program’s first NCAA Tournament berth since 1998. The Dolphins took the success one step further by rallying to down Louisville in overtime during the first round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to eventual national runner-up North Carolina.

“This is an honor to be picked this high,” said JU head coach Mike Johnson. “We have worked really hard over the last few years and it’s nice that people have taken notice. At the end of the day, this is just a poll and we have to win championships on the field. Our conference is getting better each year so we will have to fight for another shot at winning a title.”

Senior goalie Joey Sanchez, senior defender Eddie Munnelly and senior midfielder Stefan Runeman each represented the Dolphins on the preseason all-conference team.

Runeman finished third in scoring with five goals en route to earning first team all-conference and third team National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA)/adidas all-region accolades. Runeman also had the game-tying goal at the NCAA Tournament in the final minutes against Louisville to send the match into overtime.

Sanchez and Munnelly each earned second team all-conference honors in 2008 after helping the Dolphins’ defense to six shutouts. Sanchez also posted career-best 68 saves in the net and a 1.19 goals against average. His six shutouts rank second on the JU single-season lists.

“I’m happy these three guys got this award,” said Johnson. “They are our team captains and a large reason why we have been successful over these last two seasons. They set the tone for our team and we will look forward to them doing that this season.”

The Dolphins complete their fine tune-up for the regular season on Aug. 24 when they face Flagler in St. Augustine at 7 p.m.