The reigning kings of the Big South return atop the preseason standings as the Highlanders were selected as the league’s favorite for the second straight season. In addition, Fraser Colmer was named Co-Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, the league announced Tuesday.
Radford received seven of the nine possible first-place votes, totaling 79 points, edging second place High Point (69) by 10 points. The Panthers collected the other two first-place votes. Liberty followed in third place with 52 points and fresh off a tournament championship appearance, Longwood earned 45 points.
“The Big South is very competitive each year,” said first year head coach Bryheem Hancock. “Every match will be tough in the league, which will make it exciting for the players and fans every night.”
The Highlanders return 21 players from the 2016 squad, which include seven starters from last year’s 14-4-2 squad that swept the Big South Championships, making its second straight NCAA Tournament. Finishing with 10 clean sheets a season ago, Radford’s defense will look to be once again one of the best in the country under tutelage of All-Big South First Teamer Colmer.
Colmer anchored one of the best defenses in the Big South and the nation during the 2016 season. The Highlander defense yielded only two Big South goals. Radford led the conference and ranked ninth in the country with a 0.63 goals against average.
“Fraser has worked extremely hard over his time here at Radford, it means a lot that other coaches in the league have recognized what he has done as well,” Hancock added.
The Southampton, England native was named to the Big South All-Tournament Team and NSCAA All-South Region Third Team. Academically, Colmer received several prestigious honors. He collected the Big South Men’s Soccer Scholar-Athlete of the Year and the Big South Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year awards, while being named to the CoSIDA Academic All-American First Team.
The senior received four first place votes and 16 points, earning co-honors with High Point’s Johnny Fenwick. Colmer becomes Radford’s second straight Preseason Defensive Player of the Year selection.
Radford will host two home exhibition matches against Marshall (Aug. 15) and Chowan (Aug. 21), before opening up the season at Wofford on Aug. 25.