The Carthage men’s soccer team is predicted to finish second in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin this fall, according to the preseason coaches poll released Wednesday afternoon.

Carthage enters 2019 after it posted a 12-9-1 overall record and a 5-2-1 mark in the CCIW, including a victory over 17th-ranked North Park to earn its third conference title in four years and the fourth in program history.

North Park received the most votes in the poll, followed by Carthage, Wheaton, Illinois Wesleyan and Millikin.

Rounding out the poll are North Central, Elmhurst, Augustana and Carroll.

North Park had six first-place votes, Carthage had two and Wheaton one.

“It’s always humbling to see the program annually well recognized in one of the country’s strongest soccer leagues,” longtime Carthage coach Steve Domin said in a press release. “Each team in this conference is basically separated by one goal in each match, and I believe it could be one of those years where the champion is 4-3-1 or 6-2.”

Carthage closed its 2018 campaign with a first-round loss to UW-Platteville in the NCAA Division III Men’s Soccer Tournament.

Domin hopes that experience, plus the preseason accolade, will help fuel another strong campaign.

“Preseason polls are based on a body of work over an extended period of time, almost a reflection of last year and the energy heading into the upcoming season,” he said. “I am most proud of these guys being so involved in the community, scoring well in the classroom and giving back to significant levels.

“It’s the student-athlete experience they will carry with them the rest of their lives, and we are excited to add another layer to that.”

Women picked sixth

Coaches tabbed the Carthage women to finish sixth, behind vote-leader Wheaton, Augustana, Wesleyan, North Central and Carroll. Rounding out the poll were Elmhurst, Millikin and North Park.

Wheaton enters 2019 seeking its fourth straight conference title.

Carthage was 7-8-3 overall a year ago and 1-5-2 in the CCIW.

“I am excited for the upcoming season,” Carthage coach Ian Wilson said. “The CCIW is one of the toughest conferences in the region and the country. Top to bottom, the conference is a battle, and this year will be no different. We are excited for the challenge in front of us.”

Dan Truttschel