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Men’s soccer, volleyball favored in SoCon

Jeff Birchfield • Aug 31, 2017 at 10:00 AM

Expectations are high in the fall with the East Tennessee State University men’s soccer and women’s volleyball teams favored to win Southern Conference championships this season.

The men’s soccer team finished first in the regular season last season and advanced to last year’s conference tournament championship, where they lost to Mercer.

The team earned the first at-large berth in theNCAA tournament in school history, losing to Virginia Tech, 1-0.

Along the way, the Bucs earned a victory over No. 1-ranked North Carolina.

Five players returning from that team are preseason all-conference selections. Senior forward Fletcher Ekern, who led the team with nine goals, three of them game winners, leads the group.

Junior Jonny Sutherland was 2016 SoCon Goalkeeper of the Year after finishing with 70 saves and nine shutouts. Others named to the all-conference team were senior forward Cameron Woodfin, junior midfielder Serge Gomis and sophomore defender Joe Pickering.

Volleyball

Coming off the Southern Conference regular-season championship, the ETSU volleyball team was picked by the league coaches to repeat this season.

Led by reigning coach of the year Lindsey Devine, the Bucs feature all-conference selections AJ Lux and Riley Milhorn.

Lux, a first-team All-Southern Conference player, had 310 kills and a .332 attack percentage. Milhorn, a local product from Kingsport, finished with 325 kills and 314 digs. She had 19 kills and 17 digs in the Southern Conference tournament finals against Furman.

Women’s Soccer

The women’s soccer team came up just one goal short of an NCAA tournament appearance in 2016, losing 2-1 to a Samford team, coached by Todd Yelton of Piney Flats, in last year’s Southern Conference final.

ETSU finished 13-6-2 overall, setting records for single-season wins, home-field wins, goals allowed and with seven shutouts.

The Bucs opened the season on Friday, Aug. 18 with an 8-0 win over South Carolina State at Summers-Taylor Stadium.

Cross Country

Local seniors Simeon Roberts, Hayden Borghetti-Metz and Carl Oberfeitinger led a men’s squad coming off a third-place finish in last season’s Southern Conference cross country championships.

The Bucs are heavy with local talent including former Daniel Boone standouts James Garst and Josh Routh, and former Science Hill stars Noah Charles and Malik Gemechu.

Others who should play a major role include redshirt senior Daniel Sonnenfeldt and redshirt sophomore Adam Bradtmueller.

It could be a rebuilding year on the women’s side with Macy Carrier the lone senior. The Bucs do have plenty of promising underclassmen including sophomores Adrienne Hutchens and Kaitlyn Lay.

Golf

It’s a milestone year for the golf program which hosts the 20th annual Bank of Tennessee Intercollegiate at the Blackthorn Club on Oct. 13-15.

The fall and spring seasons both count for golf, and the men’s team already has some picked honors with senior Mateusz Gradecki and junior Cayman Ratliff each named Srixon/Cleveland All-American Scholars.

Trevor Hulbert, son of ETSU legend Mike Hulbert and a cousin to ETSU softball player Taylor Wright, is ready to begin his sophomore season, while Geuntae Kim is another team leader. Freshman sensation Jack Rhea from nearby Science Hill High School also looks to contribute greatly.

The women’s team has been amongst the nation’s leaders academically. With seniors Rachel Pollock and Linda Doeble, junior Dominika Czudoka and sophomore Loy Hee Ying, the Bucs also look to be among the leaders in the clubhouse.

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