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2015 College Lacrosse Preview: Bellarmine Picked as SoCon Preseason Favorite

Everyone is apparently chasing the Knights in the Southern Conference.

The Southern Conference is an actual thing that exists in reality. After assuming the lacrosse-playing assets of the Atlantic Sun, the league will sponsor its first men's lacrosse season in 2015, a mere 90-plus years after the league was founded. Interestingly, Bellarmine -- an affiliate member of the conference for lacrosse purposes -- serves as the league's preseason favorite for the coming season according to the conference's coaches, offering its 10 years of experience as grounds for its potential to serve as a flag-bearer for the league. From the press release:

The Bellarmine lacrosse team has been selected as the Southern Conference preseason favorite by the league’s seven coaches. The group also selected the 12-person preseason all-conference team for the league’s inaugural season of men’s lacrosse.

Bellarmine received four of the seven first-place votes and gained a total of 34 points to claim the top spot in the preseason voting. The Knights also placed three players on the preseason All-SoCon squad. Midfielder Austin Shanks, defender Colin Hart and longstick midfielder Bobby Schmidt each earned a spot on the inaugural preseason team.

Here's how the voting shook out:

2015 SOCON PRESEASON POLL
PLACE TEAM FIRST-PLACE VOTES POINTS
1. Bellarmine 4 34
2. High Point 3 30
3. Richmond 1 29
4. Jacksonville 19
5. Mercer 18
6. Furman 9
7. VMI 8

Based on the point tabulations some noticeable tiering is visible in the voting: Tier I -- Bellarmine, High Point, and Richmond, the only programs to receive at least one first-place vote, heading the pack and all within five points of each other (interestingly, Richmond's total is only one point less than High Point's total despite the Spiders receiving two fewer first-place votes than the Panthers); Tier II -- Jacksonville and Mercer, presumed to fight with each other for the final bid to the Southern Conference Tournament this coming season; and Tier III -- Furman and VMI, programs occupying the bottom of the league's hierarchy in affirmed ways. For comparison purposes, here's how College Crosse projected the SoCon going into the season.

As for preseason all-league honors, here's the full preseason All-SoCon team:

2015 PRESEASON ALL-SOCON TEAM
POSITION NAME SCHOOL CLASS
A Dan Lomas High Point Jr.
A Mickey Hofmeister VMI Gr.
A Matt Thistle High Point Jr.
M Mitch Goldberg Richmond So.
M Tim Geran Mercer Sr.
M Austin Shanks Bellarmine So.
D Brendan Hynes Richmond So.
D Tyler Prasnicki VMI Sr.
D Colin Hart Bellarmine Sr.
F/O Jamie Piluso High Point Jr.
LSM Bobby Schmidt Bellarmine Sr.
GK Austin Geisler High Point Sr.