ROCK HILL, S.C. — The Railsplitters were predicted to match last season’s fourth-place league finish in the South Atlantic Conference men’s soccer preseason coaches’ poll, which was unveiled by SAC officials on Tuesday. Along with the results of the coaches’ poll, the league office announced the preseason All-SAC teams with Yuri Passos (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), Leonardo da Silva (Itajuba, Brazil), George Burne (Carlisle, England) and Marcel Barwanietz (Berlin, Germany) each represented on the second team.
The 2013 season was a rollercoaster for the Railsplitters. After dropping to 1-2-1 after a tough four-game road stretch to open the season, Lincoln Memorial rallied to win eight of its next 11 contests. However, the Railsplitters lost the final two matches of the regular season. After knocking off No.5 Coker via penalty kicks in the quarterfinals of SAC Championships, the Railsplitters suffered a 4-1 season-ending defeat at the hands of the Queens Royals in the semifinals. All told, LMU compiled a 9-8-2 mark with a 6-4-1 ledger in SAC play.
Finishing atop the poll, the Carson-Newman Eagles received 114 points and five first-place votes. The Eagles enter the 2014 campaign fresh off of a run to the NCAA National Championship match, where they suffered a 2-1 loss to Southern New Hampshire. Despite earning one more first-place vote than the Eagles, the Wingate Bulldogs were second in the poll with 111 points, while the Queens Royals are third with 105 points and the final first-place tally. Queens captured both the SAC regular season and tournament titles in its first year in the league, while Wingate finished second in the regular season in 2013.
Following the Railsplitters, Anderson and Coker were tagged fifth and sixth in the poll. Lenoir-Rhyne, Mars Hill, Catawba, Tusculum, Newberry and Brevard rounded out the bottom six.
Appearing in all 19 matches with 18 starts under his belt in 2013, senior midfielder Yuri Passos was the first of four preseason All-SAC Second Team honorees for the Railsplitters. He was among the team leaders in minutes played with 1,573, notching two goals and four assists.
Passos was the lone bright spot in LMU’s season-ending loss to Queens in the SAC semifinals, registering a goal on two shots on target.
Joining Passos as a preseason All-SAC Second Team midfielder, redshirt junior Leonardo da Silva made the cut after a breakout debut for the Railsplitters in 2013. Trailing only All-Southeast Region performer Mario Pinto for the team lead, da Silva compiled five goals, 13 points, 70 shots and 24 shots on frame last season. He added three assists with two game-winning scores.
Sophomore forward George Burne is a preseason All-SAC Second Team selection after an All-SAC Honorable Mention performance in 2013. Along with Pinto and da Silva, Burne was the most potent offensive weapon in LMU’s arsenal, logging three scores and four assists with 43 total shots (13 on goal).
Back for his senior season, goalkeeper Marcel Barwanietz was the fourth and final Railsplitter selected to the preseason All-SAC Second Team. A 2013 All-SAC Honorable Mention pick, Barwanietz recorded a 1.49 goals against average with 72 saves in 1,749.24 minutes played. He notched two shutouts in 19 starts for Lincoln Memorial.
The Railsplitters open the season on Aug. 25 with a neutral site contest against the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers in Columbus, Ga. Lincoln Memorial kicks off SAC play in the home opener against Coker on Sep. 13 at the LMU Soccer Complex.