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Abilene Christian was recently tabbed as the favorite to win the Southland Conference in 2019, as the league unveiled its preseason soccer poll.

The Wildcats earned 11 first-place votes and 227 total points to secure the top spot, followed by 2018 regular-season champion Central Arkansas with 10 first-place votes and 225 total points. Lamar accounted for the other three top votes, coming in at third with 206 points.

Sam Houston State was picked to finish 10th, ahead of Incarnate Word and Nicholls.

Abilene Christian placed a league-high eight student-athletes on the preseason all-conference teams, including five on the top squad. The Wildcats return all but three players who took the field in the 2018 Southland Soccer Tournament championship match, where they defeated No. 7 Stephen F. Austin 3-1 to earn the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

In just its second full year of eligibility in the conference, Abilene Christian entered the tournament as the No. 5 seed. The Wildcats proceeded to upset No. 4 McNeese and top-seeded Central Arkansas on the way to the title game.

The 2019 Southland soccer season gets underway with four matches on August 22 — Houston at Sam Houston State (6:30 p.m.), Prairie View A&M at Houston Baptist (7 p.m.), Northwestern State at North Texas (7 p.m.) and Oklahoma State at Lamar (7:30 p.m.).

Central Arkansas is set to host the 2019 Southland Conference Soccer Tournament, which will be held November 6-10 at the Bill Stephens Track & Soccer Complex in Conway, Ark.

The Southland Conference preseason poll is voted on by each school’s head coach and soccer sports information director. Each voter ranks their predicted order of regular-season finish, not including their own team. First-place votes are worth 11 points, second-place votes are worth 10, and so on to one point for 11th place.

Below is the league’s 2019 preseason poll in its entirety:

1. Abilene Christian

2. Central Arkansas

3. Lamar

4. McNeese

5. Houston Baptist

6. Stephen F. Austin

7. Southeastern Louisiana

8. Northwestern State

9. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

10. Sam Houston State

11. Incarnate Word

12. Nicholls