PEORIA, Ill. – The Bradley Soccer team is projected to make a third consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament, according to a team preview appearing on the website CollegeSportsMadness.com posted Thursday.
Coming off consecutive NCAA Tournaments for the first time in program history, Bradley is ranked 37th in The College Sports Madness Men’s Soccer Top 44 team previews feature and the Braves are predicted to advance to the 2012 NCAA Tournament.
Under the direction of head coach Jim DeRose, who is preparing for his 17th season at Bradley, the Braves return 13 lettermen and five starters from the 2011 squad that finished 15-6-2 overall, placed third in the Missouri Valley Conference with a 4-2-0 league record and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Junior goalkeeper Brian Billings headlines the group of 13 returning letterman. Billings earned third-team NSCAA All-Midwest Region and second-team All-MVC honors as a sophomore in 2011, when he posted 5.0 shutouts with a 0.94 goals against average and .816 saves percentage.
In addition to the 13 returning lettermen, Bradley returns four players that redshirted the 2011 campaign. The Braves also welcome a talented, 12-man recruiting class that will help fill the void created by the graduation of eight seniors, including current LA Galaxy defender Bryan Gaul and USL Pro players Christian Meza and Mike Hnat.
The Braves will begin preseason training camp Aug. 8 and will host Dayton in an exhibition game Aug. 14 before opening the 2012 season with four consecutive home games at Shea Stadium, beginning with a 6 p.m. game Aug. 24 against Eastern Illinois.