Camels picked second, Betz voted preseason defensive player of the year

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Big South Conference men’s soccer head coaches have picked Campbell to finish in a tie for second place in the 2019 preseason poll and named senior Gideon Betz preseason defensive player of the year.

Defending regular season champion High Point, which finished 7-0-1 in league play a year ago (13-3-2 overall), was chosen as the 2019 preseason favorite over Campbell (9-9-3, 4-3-1), which won the Big South tournament championship without surrendering a goal in three matches. Presbyterian (8-12-0, 5-3-0), which claimed the 2017 Big South tournament title and advanced to last year’s final, was picked to finish fourth in the nine-team preseason list.

“Preseason polls don’t mean much, but we are glad to be thought of as one of the top three teams in the Big South Conference,” said head coach Dustin Fonder. “This shows that our program is headed in the right direction, but it doesn’t mean anything once the games start.”

Five players who started at least 10 matches in 2018 along with 11 other regulars return for the defending Big South tournament champion Camels. In addition to Betz, who is a three-time all-league performer, junior Thibaut Jacquel returns after leading the conference with eight assists. Also back are junior keeper Samuel Lechuga, who posted seven shutouts, and midfielders George Bediko, who joined Betz on the Big South all-tournament team and Matt Lock, a 2018 all-freshman team choice.

Betz was named Big South Championship MVP after helping the Camels post three shutouts in tournament play and scoring the game-winning goal in OT at Presbyterian in the Big South final. The co-captain played in 19 matches with 18 starts, missing two games due to injury, and scored three goals with one assist in 2018. He played full time in 14 outings, including every minute of the three-match run to Big South championship.

Off the field, Betz was named the Big South men’s soccer scholar-athlete of the year and first-team Academic All-America by the College Sports Information Directors of America.

“We are excited to have our captain Gideon Betz represent our team as the preseason defensive player of the year,” Fonder said. “He has the type of personality to let this type of accolade drive him to win for his team and hopefully to secure this award at the season’s end when it really matters.”

Campbell begins its preseason training Aug. 13 before opening with a pair of exhibition matches against Appalachian State (Aug. 19) and at Elon (Aug. 24).

Four teams that advanced to NCAA postseason play a year ago highlight the regular season schedule, including Central Arkansas, UNC Wilmington, High Point and North Carolina. The regular season begins Aug. 30 when the Camels travel to American Athletic Conference member Memphis.

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