The Raiders, who received two first-place votes, edged out Cleveland State and Valparaiso for the top spot. WSU totalled 40 points while the Vikings, who also had two first-place votes, had 39 points and the Crusaders 38 despite receiving three first-place votes.
Chicago rivals UIC and Loyola tied for the fourth spot with 29 points, followed by Green Bay, Milwaukee and Detroit.
"To be named preseason favorites says a lot about the work that our student-athletes over my first three seasons have done to put us in the position to have this honor," said head coach Bryan Davis, who enters his fourth season at the helm in 2012. "Guys like Brian Cothern, Kenji Goldman, Aaron Denney, Carl Ebers and Uros Grujic come to mind as they believed in this program and did the dirty work so the players today were put in the position to have some notoriety. That doesn't take away from the guys we have now, but pays homage to players whom I think selflessly finished their careers knowing that many of the fruits of their labor would be realized after their graduation from WSU."
After being picked last in the preseason Horizon League poll in 2011, the Raiders finished second in the standings and advanced to the league championship match before falling 1-0 to Loyola. WSU went 11-7-2 for its first winning record since 2001.
"The Horizon League is a very strong league with tremendous parity. It's a nice honor that among coaches, we were picked to finish first," said Davis. "Of course last year the same coaches picked us last so my guys are aware that preseason polls are predictions only. Our focus is to take what we did over the past year and with the new additions build it to become a stronger team with a clear identity. Our group realizes that they need to put their own stamp on this program. That comes with hard work, dedicated preparation, and ownership in this program from everyone within it. I am confident our guys will leave a mark on WSU Soccer."
In 2012, 10 starters return, including junior Bryce Rockwell-Ashton, who was named First Team All-Horizon League last season. Also back are sophomores Craig Feehan, Justin Laird and Gustav Svensson, who were each selected to the All-Newcomer Team, with Feehan being chosen as the Newcomer of the Year.
Wright State opens the exhibition portion of its schedule on Friday, August 17, at Akron, which advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament last season. Following a home exhibition against Marquette on Sunday, August 19, WSU opens the regular season on Friday, August 24, at Marshall.
After visiting Xavier, Wright State wraps up August and starts September by competing at the Wolstein Classic in Columbus. The Raiders take on Davidson on Friday, August 31, followed by Coastal Carolina on Sunday, September 2.
WSU opens the home portion of its schedule on Saturday, September 8, against Robert Morris, a contest that starts a five-match homestand. The remainder of the schedule features seven Horizon League matches along with matchups at Virginia (October 16), Ohio State (October 19), and Bowling Green (October 30).
Overall, including the exhibition games, Wright State will face five teams that competed in the NCAA Tournament last season (Akron, Xavier, Coastal Carolina, Virginia, Loyola) and four that won a regular-season league or division title (Akron, Marquette, Coastal Carolina, Valparaiso). Two teams (Akron #11, Coastal Carolina #16) appeared in the final National Soccer Coaches Association of America's final poll, with Xavier and Virginia receiving votes.
Three regular-season opponents (Coastal Carolina #17, Virginia and Xavier receiving votes) appear in the preseason NSCAA national poll, which was released on Tuesday, while exhibition foe Akron is #10.
The complete Horizon League poll results are as follows:
|Rank||Team (2011 Record)||Points (First Place Votes)|
|1.||Wright State (11-7-2, 5-2-1 Horizon)||40 (2)|
|2.||Cleveland State (9-9-1, 5-2-1)||39 (2)|
|3.||Valparaiso (9-6-5, 5-1-2)||38 (3)|
|T4.||UIC (9-7-3, 3-4-1)||29 (1)|
|T4.||Loyola (7-12-2, 3-5)||29|
|6.||Green Bay (11-7-1, 5-3)||24|
|7.||Milwaukee (6-10-2, 2-4-2)||18|
|8.||Detroit (5-12-1, 1-6-1)||7|