Coming off a 6-8 season that included a 4-7 league mark, the Howard Payne Yellow Jackets are picked to finish 10th in the American Southwest Conference men's soccer standings, according to the preseason poll released Thursday afternoon.
The Yellow Jackets received 108 points in the poll, which placed them ahead of LeTourneau (3-9-4, 3-6-2) with 93 points, Louisiana College (1-15, 1-10) with 53 points, and UT-Tyler (11-4-3, 9-1-1), which is ineligible for postseason play due to reclassifying to NCAA Division II status.
The top eight teams advance to the ASC Championship tournament Oct. 30-Nov. 4, with the winner moving on to the NCAA Division III tournament.
Mary Hardin-Baylor (17-3-1, 10-1) is the ASC favorite with 298 points and 19 first-place votes, trailed by UT-Dallas (11-6-2, 7-3-1) with 275 points and five first-place votes, Concordia (8-5-2, 5-4-2) with 226 points, Hardin-Simmons (5-7-2, 4-5-2) with 216 points and one first-place vote, McMurry (8-6-3, 5-3-3) with 194 points, Ozarks (9-7-2, 4-5-2) with 181 points and one first-place vote, Belhaven (4-7-6, 3-5-3) with 125 points, first-year program Sul Ross with 120 points, East Texas Baptist (6-8-3, 2-7-2) with 113 points and then Howard Payne.
Three Yellow Jackets were named to the ASC Players to Watch list — senior midfielder Michael Westerman, a Brownwood graduate; sophomore goal keeper Andrew Hackney; and sophomore defender Alejandro Molina.
UT-Tyler senior midfielder Lucas Pereira was named preseason offensive player of the year while Mary Hardin-Baylor senior defender Caleb Vandergriff was tabbed preseason defensive player of the year.
After exhibition matches at Dallas Baptist on Aug. 25 and at home against Texas Wesleyan on Aug. 28, Howard Payne kicks off its regular season Sept. 1 in Round Rock against Huston-Tillotson. HPU's home opener takes place Sept. 13 against UT-Tyler in a game that will not count toward the ASC standings, while the official ASC opener falls on Sept. 15 at home against Ozarks.