HIGH POINT, N.C. - Pfeiffer University has been picked to finish fourth in the 2010 men's soccer preseason poll. Last year, the Falcons finished in a second place tie with Limestone, taking the third seed into the Conference tournament. Sixth-seeded Belmont Abbey, picked third in the poll, upset the Falcons in the tournament's first round. The Lees-McRae College men’s soccer team starts the 2010 season atop the preseason conference coaches’ poll. The three year reigning conference regular season champions are currently the No. 2 ranked team in the NSCAA national preseason poll. The Bobcats know they’ll be a big target in 2010 after falling in last season’s NCAA National Championship Match 1-0 to cap off their best season in school history.
The Bobcats went 18-3-2 overall and 8-1-1 in Conference Carolinas play last year. The team lost in the conference tournament semifinals, but hosted and won the 2009 Southeast Regional with wins over Wingate and Anderson. They then hosted and again won their Elite Eight match against Tampa to advance to the NCAA Final Four. After the thrilling come-from-behind win over Lewis the team fell 1-0 to Fort Lewis in the NCAA Championship Match.
This year’s squad features new faces in key places including head coach, assistant coach, forward, full back and goalkeeper. Head coach Matt Thompson traveled south in March from Slippery Rock University. Thompson took The Rock to three NCAA Tournaments, six winning seasons and an 84-67-11 overall record in eight years. “We have high expectations, but like we have said before, I know we have a target on our backs,” Thompson said. “The boys know it will be tougher this year and teams will maybe play a different way against us, but we look forward to the challenge. It is exciting for me to see the new teams and new styles of play. I also look forward to meeting the new conference coaches.”
Despite the turnover at the top and a few key positions, the Bobcats do return 7 of their 11 starters and three other key contributors from the 2009 season. Thompson has also brought in nine freshman and three transfers to add into the mix for 2010.
The Limestone College men’s soccer team has been picked to finish second in the Conference Carolinas preseason coaches’ poll. The Saints recorded their highest conference finish last season, tying for a second place regular season finish with an 8-2 record against league opponents.
Limestone, also picked to finish second within the conference last season, looks to build on a solid 2009 season in which they compiled a 13-5 overall mark. LC returns 13 letter-winners from last year’s squad that began the year nationally ranked. Among those returning for the upcoming campaign are Keegan Ziada and Lee Smyth. Ziada is the leading returner with eight goals and 23 points while Smyth ended with a team-leading eight assists. Both players were Second-Team All-Conference selections a year ago.
The Belmont Abbey College men’s soccer team returns most of its starters from a squad that made a magical run to last year’s Conference Carolinas championship finale and finished with a 12-7-2 overall and 4-6 league mark. The Abbey, who were seeded sixth in the conference tournament, did not allow a goal in three tournament matches as they went on the road to upset the third-seeded Pfeiffer Falcons and the second-seeded Limestone Saints, before falling at Coker in the championship on penalty kicks after both teams did not score a goal through 120 minutes. Senior James Lawrence Forbes is the Crusaders leading returning scorer, posting six goals with one assist. All-conference midfielder Jack Reid returns to lead the Abbey midfield. He scored one goal last year.
Pfeiffer finished fourth in the poll with Coker fifth followed by Queens, Mount Olive, Erskine, St. Andrews, and Barton respectively rounding-out the poll standings.
Conference Carolinas Men’s Soccer Coaches Preseason Poll (# of First Place Votes in Parenthesis)