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Grove City tops PAC men’s soccer preseason coaches' poll, Westminster No. 5

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GREENVILLE, Pa. ( Grove City College men's soccer program was selected as the favorite this fall in the Presidents' Athletic Conference (PAC), according to the league's annual preseason coaches' poll. The results of this year's poll, voted on by the conference's 10 head coaches, were revealed with the PAC's Players to Watch List Tuesday afternoon. 

Grove City, led by 16th-year head coach Mike Dreves, claimed one first-place vote and 80 total points to top the preseason poll. The No. 2 seed in last spring's championship tournament, Grove City was dealt a 2-1 semifinal loss by No. 3 Washington & Jefferson College on April 27. Grove City owns a pair of PAC men's soccer titles (1996, 2005) and has made 13-straight trips to the league’s championship tournament.

Geneva College and W&J tied for second in the preseason coaches' poll, with each program collecting three first-place votes and 79 total points.

Led by 12th-year head coach Gary Dunda, Geneva earned the No. 1 seed in the conference's championship tournament last spring. On April 27 the Golden Tornadoes battled No. 4 Westminster College to a 1-1 double overtime draw in the semifinal round before falling in penalty kicks (7-6, 8 rds.). It was the second-straight year Geneva and Westminster went to penalty kicks in the semifinal round, and the league's first championship tournament match to go beyond five rounds of penalty kicks since 2012. 

W&J and 31st-year head coach Ian McDonald entered the championship tournament as the No. 3 seed last spring and defeated No. 4 Westminster 2-1 in the title match on April 30 at Alexandre Stadium in Washington to secure its second-straight PAC title. W&J has posted five PAC titles (2003, 2004, 2007, 2019, 2020-21) and is the first PAC program to win back-to-back conference championships since Thomas More University won six straight from 2009-14. McDonald has claimed six PAC Coach of the Year awards, including 2019 and 2020-21.

Westminster, led by 24th-year head coach Girish Thakar, finished fourth in the poll, collecting the final three first-place votes and 74 total points. The Titans have won a combined five PAC titles, with its most recent coming in 2018. 

Franciscan University registered 54 points to finish fifth and was followed by Bethany College in sixth (52). Chatham University and Waynesburg University tied for seventh, collecting 36 points each. Saint Vincent College finished ninth (32) and Thiel College was 10th (18). 

This season’s players to watch list includes eight All-PAC First Team selections, eight All-PAC Second Team selections and 12 All-PAC Honorable Mention selections from last spring. 

Eight of last spring's top 10 point scorers also return this fall. 

Westminster graduate forward Nick Iregui (Gig Harbor, Wash. | Charles Wright Academy) highlights this year’s players to watch list. Named the PAC Player of the Year in 2018, Iregui is a four-time All-PAC First Team selection. He finished second in the league in points scored last spring, totaling 16 on six goals and four assists. Iregui is the active career leader in all NCAA divisions in points (113) and ranks second in goals (47). He is also Westminster's all-time leader in both goals and points.

Iregui was one of seven PAC men's soccer players to earn 2020-21 College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Division III First Team Academic All-District® honors on June 3, as voted upon by the region's sports information directors.

Iregui, along with teammate and rising senior Sam Accordino (Canfield, Ohio | Canfield), was named to the 2020-21 CoSIDA Academic All-America® Team on July 7. Westminster was one of 14 schools with multiple Academic All-America® honorees. Accordino and Iregui are the first men's soccer players from the PAC to earn CoSIDA Academic All-America® honors since Grove City's Tim Boswell and Brian Eckenhoff in 2011. 

The players to watch list also includes 16 members of the 2020-21 PAC Academic Honor Roll, which recognizes student-athletes on varsity sports teams who have earned a grade-point average (GPA) of 3.6 or higher on a 4.0 scale during their semester of competition.

The league’s regular season concludes Wednesday, October 27 with the six-team PAC Championship Tournament scheduled to get underway Saturday, Oct. 30. The title match is slated for Saturday, November 6. 

This year’s tournament champion will secure the PAC’s automatic qualifying bid to the Division III Championship. Team selections for the Division III Championship will be announced Monday, Nov. 8, with the first and second rounds slated for Saturday-Sunday, Nov. 13-14. 

2021 PAC Men's Soccer Preseason Coaches' Poll (Predicted order of finish)
School (first-place votes)Points2020-21 record (PAC)
1. Grove City College (1)807-2 (7-1)
T-2. Geneva College (3)798-1-1 (8-1)
T-2. Washington & Jefferson College (3)798-2-1 (6-2-1)
4. Westminster College (3)745-5-1 (5-4)
5. Franciscan University544-4-1 (4-4-1)
6. Bethany College523-4-2 (3-4-2)
T-7. Chatham University361-7-1 (1-7-1)
T-7. Waynesburg University363-5-1 (3-5-1)
9. Saint Vincent College324-5 (4-4)
10. Thiel College180-9 (0-9)

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