Men's Soccer
Sun Belt Conference Ranks Wildcats No. 1 in 2023 Preseason Poll

Sun Belt Conference Ranks Wildcats No. 1 in 2023 Preseason Poll

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Sun Belt Conference announced its preseason awards Monday afternoon with the Wildcats ranked No. 1 overall ahead of the 2023 season.

In addition to the first-place ranking, Casper Grening was named Offensive Preseason Player of the Year while Casper Mols received Defensive Preseason Player of the Year from the conference. The Cats also saw both Grening and Mols, as well as Andrew Erickson and Max Miller on the Preseason All-Sun Belt Team.

Following a league double for Kentucky in 2022, the No. 1 shout is much deserved for the Wildcats following a No. 3 ranking in the United Soccer Coaches Preseason Coaches’ Poll. Kentucky returns to the pitch with 10 returners and 14 newcomers.

Casper Grening – Preseason Offensive Player of the Year

Grening, a native of Roskilde, Denmark, enters his junior season with the Wildcats. The midfielder proved to be a reliable goal-scorer last season with 11 scored including a brace on the road at West Virginia last October. Grening also recorded five assists and 78 total shots on the year with 33 on goal. His 1,417 minutes on the pitch for Kentucky last season resulted in a national No. 6-ranking in Shots Per Game, as well as Sun Belt Second Team All-Conference honors. Currently, he leads the team in total shots and ties 2022 Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, Eythor Bjorgolfsson, in overall goals scored.

Casper Mols – Preseason Defensive Player of the Year

Recently named on the 2023 Goalkeepers to Watch list by United Soccer Coaches, Mols returns to Lexington for his sophomore season in the net. Originally from Aabenraa, Denmark, the keeper was no stranger to the spotlight last season. He was an NCAA DI All-America First Team honoree, NCAA DI Men’s All-Southeast Region First Team recipient, named Sun Belt Conference Goalkeeper of the Year, as well as Sun Belt All-Tournament and All-Conference honoree. Mols was also ranked No. 7 in the final TopDrawerSoccer Freshman Top-100 of the season. Mols’ numerous accolades were backed up by his performances in the goal tallying 1327:27 minutes with 28 saves and an 11-1-4 record.

Grening and Mols were joined by Erickson and Miller on the Preseason All-Sun Belt Team. Erickson, a senior midfielder, and Miller, a sophomore defender, look to continue and improve upon the standard set by the Wildcats last season.

For the full list of Sun Belt preseason awards, see below.

2023 Sun Belt Men’s Soccer Pre-Season Poll 

  1. Kentucky – 93 (6)
  2. Marshall – 91 (2)
  3. West Virginia – 77 (1)
  4. UCF – 68 (1)
  5. South Carolina – 49
  6. Georgia State – 45

Coastal Carolina – 45

  1. James Madison – 40
  2. Old Dominion – 26
  3. Georgia Southern – 16

2023 Sun Belt Conference Men’s Soccer Preseason Awards 

Preseason Offensive Player of the Year 

Casper Grening, Kentucky (Jr., F – Roskilde, Denmark) 

Preseason Defensive Player of the Year 

Casper Mols, Kentucky (So., GK  — Aabenraa, Denmark ) 

2023 Men’s Soccer Preseason All-Conference Team* 

Mathew Bell, Marshall (So., F – Kingston, Jamaica)

Simon Carlson, Georgia State (Sr., F – Kennesaw, Ga.)

Lucca Dourando, UCF (Sr., F – São Paulo, Brazil)

Casper Grening, Kentucky (Jr., F – Roskilde, Denmark) 

Andrew Erickson, Kentucky (Sr., M – San Antonio, Texas) 

Eythor Kjartansson, Coastal Carolina (So., M – Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland)

Alex Karkowiak, James Madison (R-Jr., M – Guelph, Ontario, Canada)

Gavin Williams, Georgia State (So., M – Cumming, Ga.)

Morris Duggan, Marshall (Sr., D – Munich, Germany)

Max Miller, Kentucky (So., D – Lexington, Ky.) 

Anderson Rosa, UCF (Sr., D – Salvador, Bahia, Brazil)

Casper Mols, Kentucky (So., GK – Aabenraa, Denmark) 

*Team Expanded Due to Ties in Voting

The top-ranked Wildcats will close out the preseason exhibition debut with a 7 p.m. EST match at Northern Kentucky on Saturday before kicking off the 2023 match slate at the Wendell and Vickie Bell Soccer Complex on Aug. 24. UK will take on Florida Gulf Coast at 7:30 p.m. Fans can purchase single match or season tickets by clicking here.

For the latest on the Kentucky’s men’s soccer team, follow @UKMensSocer on TwitterFacebook and Instagram, as well as on the web at

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