RICHMOND, Va. – The Virginia Commonwealth University Men's Soccer program was picked to finish second in the Atlantic 10 Conference in 2013, according to a vote of the league's head coaches. In addition, five Rams earned preseason individual honors.
Senior Romena Bowie, sophomore Dennis Castillo and junior Juan Monge Solano were named to the league's preseason all-conference squad, while freshmen Dakota Barnathan and Pablo Paz each received preseason all-rookie recognition.
Bowie, a Hermann Trophy candidate and preseason All-American by College Soccer News, has been a staple in VCU's midfield since arriving on campus in 2010 (four assists in 57 matches). Meanwhile, Castillo is coming off a breakout rookie campaign in which he scored six goals (3-for-3 on PKs) and helped the Rams' defense post six shutouts en route to a pair of Freshman All-America citations from Soccer America and College Soccer 360. Monge Solano, an anchor on VCU's backline, has registered six goals and a pair of assists during his first two collegiate seasons.
24th-ranked VCU was picked to finish second behind defending league champion Saint Louis. The Rams and Billikens met in the A-10 championship match a year ago, and were one of four league teams to earn NCAA Tournament bids in 2012. A-10 newcomer and former Colonial Athletic Association rival George Mason was selected third, while Dayton and La Salle rounded out the preseason top five.
The Rams play three straight home matches to open the regular season, beginning with UAB on Aug. 30. VCU then faces in-state rival Old Dominion on Sept. 1 before hosting nationally-ranked New Mexico on Sept. 6. All three matches are slated to kickoff at 7 p.m.
In all, VCU is set to face eight teams ranked in the preseason Top 25 this fall, including defending national champion and top-ranked Indiana, and No. 2 Maryland. Six of the Rams' 2013 opponents rank among the top 15, four of which will visit Sports Backers Stadium, including a trip from the Hoosiers on Oct. 18.
2013 Atlantic 10 Predicted Order of Finish
1. Saint Louis (11) 143
2. VCU (1) 133
3. George Mason 113
4. Dayton 112
5. La Salle 89
6. Fordham 84
7. Duquesne 70
8. Rhode Island 51
9. Massachusetts 50
10. George Washington 48
11. St. Bonaventure 28
12. Saint Joseph's 15
2013 Atlantic 10 Preseason All-Conference Team
F – Simon Gomez, Duquesne
F – Robert Kristo, Saint Louis
F – Emmett O'Connor, St. Bonaventure
M - Romena Bowie, VCU
M - David Graydon, Saint Louis
M - Jason Plumhoff, La Salle
M - Alex Sweetin, Saint Louis
D - Dennis Castillo, VCU
D - Anthony Manning Saint Louis
D - Juan Monge Solano, VCU
GK - John McCarthy, La Salle
2013 Atlantic 10 Preseason All-Rookie Team
David Andre, Saint Louis, (GK; FR)
Dakota Barnathan, VCU, (DCM; FR)
Arnaud Cesarini, Duquesne, (MF; SO)
James Haupt, Dayton, (MF; FR)
Zach Herstek, George Mason, (MF; FR)
Andrew Hickey, Fordham, (D; FR)
Pablo Paz, VCU, (ACM; SO)
Joe Saad, Saint Louis, (MF/F; FR)