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Buffs and Lady Buffs ranked in top 10 of pre-season soccer polls

WTAMU is ranked ninth in the United Soccer Coaches Men's Soccer Preseason Top 25 released on Tuesday afternoon.

WT is one of two schools from the Lone Star Conference ranked in the Top 15 joined by Midwestern State at No. 14 along with Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference rivals Colorado School of Mines (16th) and Colorado Mesa (17th).

Butch Lauffer enters his 29th season at the helm of the men's soccer program after leading the Buffs to a program record 17 wins in 2018 including a trip to the NCAA DII Quarterfinals. All-American Lucca Lima returns for his senior season as the Caxaambu, Brazil native scored 11 goals combined with seven assists in 2018 helping WT to its third regional title in program history. Junior goalkeeper Alexander Vencel is coming off a season where he ranked fourth in the conference and 27thnationally in goals against average en route to earning 2ndTeam All-Heartland Conference honors.

The Buffs open the 2019 season on Thursday, Sept. 5, at Colorado State-Pueblo in Pueblo, Colo. before hosting Western Washington and Seattle Pacific at The Pitch the following week.

The Lady Buffs are ranked 10th in the United Soccer Coaches Preseason Top 25.

The Lady Buffs are one of two Lone Star conference teams ranked in the Top 10, and one of four schools from the South Central Region ranked inside the Top 25. WT has now been ranked in the preseason rankings for the second consecutive season.

The defending regional champions return eight starters from last year's squad that finished 15-4-3 and returned to the NCAA DII Quarterfinals for the first time since 2009. Hannah Kelley-Lusk is back for her junior season after earning All-American honors in 2018 where she scored nine goals along with six assists for a team-high 24 points. Cheyenne Orozco, the 2018 LSC Defensive Player of the Year, has started in all 45 matches during her two-year career where the Albuquerque, N.M. native has anchored the WT defense to a total of 17 shutouts.

WT opens the 2019 season on Thursday, Sept. 5, against Colorado State-Pueblo at Rawlings Sports Complex in Pueblo, Colo. The Lady Buffs are 5-5-1 all-time against the ThunderWolves including a 2-0 defeat in last season's season opener at The Pitch.

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