The Missouri State men’s soccer team is picked to finish second according to the Missouri Valley Conference preseason poll released by the league today. The Bears, regular season champions a year ago, received two first-place votes and finish eight points behind Evansville in the poll. The Purple Aces garnered the other six first-place votes and racked up 60 points. Creighton (49 points), Drake (41), Bradley (28), SIU Edwardsville (24), Eastern Illinois (20) and Central Arkansas (14) are picked behind the Bears.

Last season’s MVC Defensive Player of the Year, Alex Riggs, and fellow senior Paul Paradise received the nod to the preseason squad.

Riggs, who racked up a 12-5-2 record in 2009, returns as one of the Bears to receive all-conference recognition in 2009. He currently ranks third on the Missouri State career list in shutouts (14) and goals against average (1.00) and fifth in minutes played (4,210), wins (19) and matches started (44). Riggs recorded eight shutouts and a 0.82 goals against in 2009. He led the conference in shutouts (5), goals against average (0.66) and save percentage (.842) among starters in conference play last season. He was an All-Midwest Region first team honoree last year.

Paradise, a transfer from West Virginia, made an immediate impact on the Bears team in his first year. He scored his first goal in a Bears’ uniform in just the second match of the year and went on to score five goals on the season, second-best on the team. Paradise was an All-MVC honorable mention selection in 2009. He tallied two game-winning goals on the season and was named the MVC Offensive Player of the Week on October 26 following his two-goal outburst against Bradley. He earned All-Midwest Region third team honors for his play in 2009.

Missouri State will face Central Baptist College (Ark.) in an exhibition match tomorrow (Aug. 18) at 6:15 p.m. at Plaster Field. The Bears open the regular season at SMU on September 1. Missouri State’s regular season home opener is Friday, September 10 against Green Bay with kickoff slated for 7:30 p.m. at Plaster Field.