CLEVELAND, Ohio – According to a poll of Horizon League head coaches, the Cleveland State University men's soccer team has been selected to finish eighth in the league table in 2019.
Wright State, which had four first-place votes, was picked as the league's preseason favorite. UIC was slated as the runner-up and led the way with five first-place votes. Green Bay, Oakland, Milwaukee, Northern Kentucky and IUPUI occupied spots three through seven, respectively, while Detroit Mercy rounded out the poll.
Cleveland State returns 17 student-athletes from last year's roster and welcomes eight newcomers to the squad, including four transfers.
Six Vikings return that started at least 10 matches last season, with five of those six competing in at least 14 of the squad's 15 fixtures in 2018. CSU's top three leaders in goals all return while two defenders that started at least 11 matches are back in the fold for 2019.
Junior Thomas M'Barek, an All-Horizon League selection last year, will likely lead the defensive unit while serving as captain for a second straight season. Junior Dan Manolache, who has played in 23 matches over his first two seasons, and sophomore Ryan Kolonick, who figured in 14 matches as a rookie, both had significant playing time on defense a year ago. Senior Hayden Parente will look to make the position switch after beginning last season as a midfielder while a pair of Vikings—Rushoy Brown and Saahb Kular—will look to make in impact after injuries derailed their 2018 campaigns.
Senior Thomas Bielanski and sophomore Jannis Schmidt will likely figure prominently in forming the backbone of the Viking midfield after the duo combined to play in 29 of a possible 30 matches a year ago. Sophomore Tommy Paltani showcased improvement during his rookie campaign last year when he was often featured in a holding midfield role. Senior Vlad Jandric, an All-Horizon League honoree last year, has been featured in many roles in his time as a Viking, ranging from center back to advanced midfield, depending on team needs. Redshirt sophomore transfer Andrew Nicholas showcased impressive performances during the spring season while sophomore Stjepan Mijic-Barisic will push for playing time with a year of collegiate experience under his belt.
Senior Gabriel Pewu led the Vikings with six goals last season, and the squad will once again look to him to lead the way as a target forward. Junior Zack Kluever had a trio of goals last year, while often coming off the bench, and will seek to work his way into the starting lineup this season. Senior Lawrence Karpeh has competed in 45 collegiate matches and can bring a bevy of experience up front for CSU.
Head coach Sinisa Ubiparipovic will lead the Vikings in his first season as head coach in 2019. Since the Horizon League adopted its current tournament format, the Vikings are tied for the league lead in tournament appearances and pace the circuit in earning top-four seeds.
With its exhibition slate complete, Cleveland State will commence the 2019 regular season this Friday, Aug. 30, at No. 14 Louisville.