CCU soccer opens camp, faces Tar Heels in tuneup

The Chanticleers broke into its first season in the Sun Belt Conference with the same vigor they have always had and it showed as CCU won the regular season and then the tournament title for their first Sun Belt Championship, and in the process securing another NCAA berth.

The goals for 2017 will not be any different and with a strong returning nucleus and the addition of a talented signing class, the future continues to look strong for the Chants. The Chanticleers reported Tuesday to begin preparations for the 2017 season.

The strength of the team starts at the top and Head Coach Shaun Docking returns to the CCU sidelines for his 20th season where he has led the Chants to 13 regular season conference and tournament titles as well as leading the team to 14 NCAA Tournament berths. He has become the career-wins leader at CCU with a record of 252-112-34 (.661) and his all-time record as a head coach is 272-131-36 (.646).

Docking has the luxury of returning eight starters in 2017 and 17 lettermen. Leading that group of returners will be senior Frantzdy Pierrot, a 2016 First Team All-Sun Belt selection. Pierrot, a forward, led the team with 21 points and had a team-high eight goals on the season.

CCU also returns midfielder Martin Melchor (2nd Team All-SBC) who was next on the team in scoring with 15 points (5 goals/5 assists).

Joining Melchor as returning starters in the midfield are Ryan Willoughby, Louis Dargent and Brennan Koslow.

CCU has two starters returning on the back row of defense led by Henrik Muller and Miguel Gutierrez. Muller was named to the 2016 Sun Belt All-Tournament team.

CCU’s defense was the best in the conference and one of the best in the nation, only allowing 18 goals all of last season. The Chants starting goalkeeper returns in senior Braulio Linares-Ortiz. The College Park, Md., native received Second-Team All-Sun Belt honors last season, but was arguably the best goalie in the league.

He only allowed 14 goals to lead the conference and his 0.74 goals against also was a conference-leader as were his eight shutouts. He had 69 saves on the season and had a .831 saves percentage.

The coaching staff believes they may have the strongest recruiting class in recent memory. Eight newcomers will dot the roster as well as two players who sat out last season due to NCAA rulings.

Leading the newcomers will be the National Junior College Athletic Association Player of the Year Yazeed Matthews. While CCU picked up a conference title, they at times had a difficult time finding the back of the net. Matthews could be just the fit the Chants need to help bolster their offense. The high-scoring Matthews will transfer to CCU from Tyler Junior College where he scored 36 career goals, including 27 in 2016. He was a two-time all-conference honoree as well as earning JUCO All-America.

Another transfer will be goalkeeper Chris Datallo, coming to CCU from Quinnipiac University. The Bobcats are coming off a record 13-win 2016 season and won the 2016 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC).

 

The Chants open up the 2017 season at North Carolina in an exhibition match Sunday. The first regular season match will be Friday, Aug. 25 at George Mason at 1 p.m. CCU’s first home match will come Friday, Sept. 1 against UNC Greensboro at 7:30 p.m.

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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