San Antonio – It’s a little more than two weeks until the St. Mary’s men’s soccer team breaks open its 2012 season, but predictions of its success are already in order.

Recently released, the Heartland Conference preseason poll the Rattlers pegged as fifth out of the six teams competing for the conference title, as they totaled 24 votes from the conference’s coaches and sports information directors.

Despite being picked fifth in the preseason poll, the Rattlers will look to prove the doubters wrong. And they’ll do so with a talented group of returning players, as four out of their five All-Heartland Conference honorees from a year ago return for another go this fall. Defenders Aaron Stares (Sr., Swindon, England) and Adam ‘Chuy’ Muro (Sr., San Antonio), midfielder Andrew Carrasco (Sr., Corpus Christi, Texas) and goalkeeper Patrick Kasperitis (RS-Jr., Corpus Christi, Texas) all return in hopes of bringing St. Mary’s a winning season.

Also returning this season is the Rattlers’ starting keeper in the net, David Schmelzer (Jr., Castroville, Texas), who last season was sidelined after just three games due to injury and missed the rest of the season. His return should make for a heated battle for the starting goalkeeping job in the weeks leading up to the season.

Those returning faces will meet with seven new Rattlers who will compete this season for the title.

Leading the preseason poll is Texas A&M International University, who holds the No. 1 rank with 59 votes including nine first-place votes of those expecting them to defend their conference crown. Picked to finish on the heels of the Dustdevils this season are St. Edward’s University and Newman University, who were polled to finish second and third, respectively.

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