MACON, Ga. - Looking to rebound from a disappointing season last fall, the Lipscomb men’s soccer team has placed high expectations on its 2016 season. That notion gained merit on Monday when the ASUN Conference announced its preseason poll and all-conference honors.
The league’s seven coaches picked Lipscomb to finish third and voted Ivan Alvarado as the Preseason Player of the Year and Micah Bledsoe as the Preseason Goalkeeper of the Year.
In addition to their individual awards, Alvarado and Bledsoe were named to the Preseason All-Conference team alongside teammates Logan Paynter and Joe Kerridge, giving the Bisons a league-high four players named to the all-conference team.
With only two short seasons under his belt in the Music City, Alvarado has put together one of the most decorated careers in program history. In 31 matches he has racked up eight goals and 12 assists while earning First Team All-ASUN honors twice and a spot on the NSCAA All-Southeast Region third team in 2015.
The Fort Worth, Texas native finished his sophomore campaign with four goals and four assists while tying Paynter for a team high 12 points. His 12 career assists are the most of any active ASUN player heading into this season.
Bledsoe returns as the most experienced goalkeeper in the conference with 40 starts in his career. He finished 6-9-1 between the pipes last season while pulling in 60 saves. He also notched three shutouts to give him 10 clean sheets for his career.
He played one of the best games of his career when he stopped seven balls to help lead the Bisons in a 2-1 win over No. 10 Xavier, the highest ranked opponent Lipscomb has ever beaten. His performance earned him ASUN Player of the Week and a spot on the College Soccer News Team of the Week.
Paynter came out of nowhere to lead Lipscomb last season as a redshirt freshman. The forward out of Bradenton, Florida paced the Bisons with six goals and tied for the team lead with 12 total points.
He played all but 19 minutes on the season and led the team in shots (39) and shots on goal (20). He nailed the game-winner against Stetson in the regular season finale to clinch the No. 3 seed for Lipscomb in the conference tournament. Earlier in the season Paynter notched his first career multiple-goal game against Georgia Southern.
Kerridge is coming off a season that saw him land on the all-conference second team after helping anchor a defense that pitched three shutouts. He played all but three minutes on the season and finished as one of only three Bisons who started all 17 matches.
In those games Kerridge posted two assists, including the helper on the game-winner against Jacksonville.
Lipscomb received 34 total points in the coaches poll, standing behind only FGCU (42) and North Florida (38). However, all three schools were tied with two first place votes each. Jacksonville, who came in fourth, received the final first place tally.
The Bisons opened camp last week and are gearing up for an exhibition Tuesday at 4 p.m. against Cincinnati at Gettler Stadium.
The regular season will get started Friday, August 26 against Florida Atlantic in the Lipscomb/Belmont Challenge with a 7 p.m. kickoff.