HIGH POINT, N.C. - The Coker College men’s soccer team has been voted as the preseason favorite for the 2012 season. As the defending Conference Carolinas regular season and tournament champions, the Cobras are a preseason No. 18 pick in the National Collegiate Soccer Coaches Association (NSCAA) poll. Pfeiffer University was predicted to finish 11th in 2012.
"It's very pleasing to be recognized by our fellow conference teams,” said head coach Paul Leese. “Conference Carolinas is incredibly strong in men's soccer, so to be voted No. 1 is a tremendous achievement. I am particularly pleased for our current seniors who have transformed the program during their time here. We know it will be tough to defend our conference title but we hope to continue developing as a team and we want to make Coker and the Hartsville community proud."
The Cobras are returning 11 veterans from an 18-3 squad that logged a 10-1 record in league play. Returners include last season’s conference player of the year, Carlos Recinos as well as five all-conference performers; James Sweeney, Atticus Lum, Fernando Bedoya, Rommel Fondin and Stephen Scrivens.
Recinos led the attack on the season with 13 goals and 10 assists to combine for a team high 36 points. Fondin added to the attack power with four goals and five assists, while Scrivens was right behind tallying three goals and three assists. Sweeney was a brick wall for the Cobras only allowing 13 goals on the season and collecting an 81.7 save percentage. Lum and Bedoya gave the opposing offenses’ little chance to score only allowing 71 shots on goal for the year.
To add more fuel to the fire, the Navy and Yellow added seven new recruits to their 2012-13 lineup that includes three defenders and four offensive specialists.
The Limestone College men’s soccer team enters the 2012 campaign returning 55 out of 58 goals scored from a season ago. The Saints, who led the nation with 3.05 goals per game in 2011, finished 12-7 overall and 7-4 in league play last year while advancing to the Conference Carolinas Tournament Semifinals.
The Lees-McRae College men’s soccer is primed to take a big leap in Lee Squires’ second year at the helm, returning 12 lettermen from the 2011 squad, which finished runner-up in the race for both the conference regular season and tournament titles en route to the program’s fifth straight NCAA Tournament appearance. The Bobcats return a veteran corps led by senior John Williams, and juniors Thomas Rusling and James Galvani.
Coach Squires and the Bobcats posted a sterling 15-6-1 record last season, including a 9-2 mark in league play, as Galvani and Smith combined for 17 goals, 14 assists, and 46 points to lead the LMC attack. Rusling will be called up to anchor the Bobcat defense once again, carrying a career goals against average of 1.07 into the season, which ranks third all-time in program history.
"I think we have a point to prove to people this year,” said Squires. “We want to get back to being top of the conference and region at the end of the season, and we are working very hard to achieve this. It's a tough league, and there are no easy games, so we have to be prepared for each and every game."
Barton & Erskine finished tied for fourth in the poll, followed by Queens, King, North Greenville, Belmont Abbey, Mount Olive and Pfeiffer respectively rounding-out the poll standings.
Conference Carolinas Men’s Soccer Coaches Preseason Poll (# of First Place Votes in Parenthesis)
1. Coker - (9) 99
2. Limestone - (2) 90
3. Lees-McRae - 79
T4. Erskine - 58
T4. Barton - 58
6. Queens - 56
7. King - 44
8. North Greenville - 39
9. Belmont Abbey - 34
10. Mount Olive - 27
11. Pfeiffer - 21