The Paladins, who finished second in the standings last season, enter the year's campaign looking for their 20th regular-season league title. Furman, ranked 24th in the preseason NSCAA/Continental Tire Preseason Top 25 Poll, picked up 47 points in the preseason SoCon poll, including five first-place votes.
Furman returns 2011 SoCon Co-Player of the Year Coleton Henning and freshman of the year Walker Zimmerman, who earned spots on the 11-member preseason all-conference team. Henning, a forward, and Zimmerman, a defender, are joined on the squad by Paladin forward Martin Ontiveros. Henning and Zimmerman also appear on the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List.
College of Charleston edged defending regular-season champion UNCG for second place in the poll, picking up 36 points and one first-place vote. The Spartans checked in at third with 35 points.
Midfielder Sean de Silva represented the Cougars on the preseason all-conference team, while UNCG matched Furman with three players on the squad in forward Hakan Ilhan, defender Aaron Reifschneider and goalkeeper Peyton Ford.
Defending SoCon tournament champion Elon was fourth in the poll with 30 points and put forward Chris Thomas and midfielder Gabe Latigue on the preseason team. The Phoenix also picked up a first-place vote.
Appalachian State was fifth in the poll with 26 points, followed closely by Georgia Southern, who grabbed the remaining first-place vote and finished with 24 points. Both teams were represented on the preseason all-conference team, with the Mountaineers' Lee Williams earning a spot in the defense and GSU's Hunter Norton taking a spot in the midfield. Williams joined Henning and Zimmerman on the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List.
Wofford finished seventh with 14 points and Davidson rounded out the poll with 12.
Coaches were not permitted to vote for their own team or players in the balloting.
The 2012 regular season begins on Friday, Aug. 24, with four of the conference's eight teams in action. In all, seven league teams get their seasons under way that weekend.
The SoCon Men's Soccer Championship will feature all eight teams with the final four facing off in Cary, N.C., at WakeMed Soccer Park on Nov. 8 and 10.
2012 Men's Soccer Preseason Coaches' Poll
1. Furman (5) 47
2. College of Charleston (1) 36
3. UNCG 35
4. Elon (1) 30
5. Appalachian State 26
6. Georgia Southern (1) 24
7. Wofford 14
8. Davidson 12
() denotes first-place votes
2012 Men's Soccer Preseason All-Conference Team
F Chris Thomas, Elon
F Coleton Henning, Furman
F Martin Ontiveros, Furman
F Hakan Ilhan, UNCG
MF Sean de Silva, College of Charleston
MF Gabe Latigue, Elon
MF Hunter Norton, Georgia Southern
D Lee Williams, Appalachian State
D Walker Zimmerman, Furman
D Aaron Reifschneider, UNCG
GK Peyton Ford, UNCG