#SummitMSOC Weekly Notebook: No. 1

Diego Gutoerrez, junior forward for Omaha
Diego Gutoerrez, junior forward for Omaha


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The 2019 NCAA Men's Soccer season will officially begin on Friday, August 30 with all six league members in action on opening night, with the goal of reaching the NCAA College Cup in Cary, N.C. in December.

Denver was predicted to win The Summit League's 2019 men's soccer title by the league's six head coaches. This marks the seventh consecutive season that the Pioneers have been tabbed as the league favorite. Denver has either shared or won the regular season title outright in each of the last six seasons. During that stretch the Pioneers have also won five of the last six tournament titles. Omaha won the 2017 tournament championship.

Purdue Fort Wayne and Oral Roberts will be the lone teams starting the year at home. While Eastern Illinois and Western Illinois will stay in the Midwest. Both Denver and Omaha will start out on the west coast. Omaha will start against Cal and Denver will open play against Washington.

League Notes

• Seven members of the 2018 First Team All-Summit League team return in 2019 with six from the second team also returning

• Omaha returned the most all-league members from 2018 with four, including Diego Gutierrez who was nominated as the Omaha Player to Watch for the 2019 season

• Denver and Oral Roberts each returned three all-league members

• Denver's Will Palmquist and Callum Stretch return as 2018 league award winners. Palmquist earned goalkeeper of the year honors while Stretch was named the newcomer of the year

• The Pioneers enter the 2019 season on a 23-match unbeaten streak in League play. Their last loss came on Oct. 25, 2014 at Omaha

• Denver enters the season ranked 18th in the United Soccer Coaches preseason poll. The Pioneers will face off against four opponents ranked in preseason top 25, including No. 2 Indiana, No. 5 Stanford and No. 9 Notre Dame

• Omaha will also play four teams ranked in the preseason top 25, including No. 11 Saint Mary's, No. 19 Air Force and No. 24 Michigan

• Purdue Fort Wayne will take on a top 10 ranked Notre Dame in South Bend in early October

• Purdue Fort Wayne's Blake Cearns returns with the most goals scored from a year ago with eight. Omaha's Gutierrez trailed Cearns by just one goal last season

• The Summit League returns a young and talented group of goalies. A pair of sophomores' in Purdue Fort Wayne's Tor Erik Larsen and Oral Roberts Miles Motakef led the League is saves last season while fellow sophomore Palmquist finished sixth in just 12 matches. Those three sophomores accounted for six of the 11 defensive player of the week awards last season

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