CCU soccer to host Elon in NCAA Tournament opener

The Coastal Carolina men’s soccer team will host Elon in the first round of the NCAA Championships on Thursday at 7 p.m.

Coastal Carolina and Elon have met once this season with the Chants claiming a 2-1 victory over the Southern Conference tournament champion Phoenix.

The winner will go on to play on Sunday, Nov. 20, at North Carolina, which is the tournament’s top seed. Coastal also faced the Tar Heels this season, losing 2-0 to UNC in an exhibition match at the CCU Soccer Field to start the 2011 season.

The Chanticleers, who had 17 wins this season, earned a berth to the 2011 NCAA Championship by winning its 10th Big South regular season title since 1986.

This will be Coastal’s ninth NCAA berth and the seventh under head coach Shaun Docking. It will mark the second time Coastal has hosted an NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship match, joining the 2003 team that went on to reach the NCAA Sweet 16.

“This is a fantastic for our program,” Docking said. ”I am thrilled for our seniors and the guys who have worked so hard this year. This is also great for our alumni, who laid the foundation for this team and created a great soccer culture at Coastal Carolina University.”

Coastal Carolina swept the Big South all-conference awards and had a total of seven make the all-conference team. Docking was named Big South Coach of the Year, Ashton Bennett received Attacking Player of the Year, the Defensive Player of the Year went to Cyprian Hedrick and Kjartan Sigurdsson as named Freshman of the Year.

Joining Bennett, Hedrick and Sigurdsson on the first team were Pedro Ribeiro, Luis Faz, Justin Portillo and Scott Angevine. In addition to Sigurdsson, Ricky Garbanzo and Henrik Robstad were named to the All-Freshman team.

This marked the sixth time in his 16 years of coaching in the Big South that Docking has won the Coach of the Year award. Docking became the all-time wins leader at Coastal Carolina with 172 total wins. With a 9-0-0 Big South record, Docking improved to 73-21-7 (.757) during his 14 years as the Chanticleers head coach.

The Chanticleers, who finished the regular season leading the NCAA in scoring, were paced this season by National Player of the Year candidate Bennett.

Bennett finished the regular season as a top four NCAA statistical categories including: goals (21), goals per game (1.17), total points (48) and points per game (2.67).  Bennett has posted seven multi-goal games during the 2011 campaign, including hat tricks against Richmond and Liberty.

Bennett was named the TopDrawerSoccer.com National Player of the Week Oct. 24 in addition to being named to its National Team of the Week on three occasions. He was also named to the College Soccer News National Team of the Week twice this season. Bennett has notched eight game-winning goals on the year and was named the MVP of the Virginia Commonwealth and Coastal Carolina Tournaments. He has also won Big South Attacking Player of the Week honors three times this season.

Tickets for the NCAA First Round are available by calling the CCU Athletics Ticket Office at 1-877-4-CHANTS or by visiting GoCCUsports.com. Ticket prices are set for $7 for adults and $5 for youth (High School age and below) and students with a valid ID.  All tickets are general admission, bleachers are first come, first serve.

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