Chants open season ranked 17 by College Soccer News

With the start of fall practice less than two weeks away, College Soccer News has released its preseason top-30 poll with the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers registering in at 17th.

Coastal Carolina is an offseason removed from a school-record tying 20 win season that also saw the Chanticleers equal a school and Big South Conference-best NCAA Tournament run with a Round of 16 appearance.

In addition, the 2012 campaign was highlighted by an 11th Big South regular season championship with a perfect 10-0-0 mark, improving the Chants’ Big South regular season winning streak to 19 games, and a No. 11 final national ranking.

The Chants finished the 2012 campaign ranked second in the NCAA with 63 goals and first with 61 assists; however, this season head coach Shaun Docking will need to replace 31 goals and 26 assists due to losses via graduation. But those losses should be minimalized as Docking returns nine players, including seven starters, from last year’s team.

Atop the list of returners for the Chanticleers is 2011 NSCAA All-American and 2013 College Soccer News Preseason All-American Pedro Ribeiro. Ribeiro finished the 2012 season with five goals and 10 assists despite missing four games and parts of two others due to injury.

In addition to Ribeiro, the Coastal also returns three-year starting midfielder Justin Portillo and 2012’s second leading scorer Ricky Garbanzo. Portillo notched four goals and 10 assist last season and has been a calm presence in the center of the Chanticleer formation throughout his time in Conway. Garbanzo, a junior, is coming off a breakout season that featured 13 goals, including a hat trick in a 3-2 win at South Carolina.

Joining the afore mentioned trio in the attack are returners Jakub Stourac and Matt Risher. Stourac notched three goals in his freshman campaign, including the golden goal against Wake Forest in the NCAA Tournament Second Round. Risher also scored three goals last season and dished out a pair of assists.

Docking also returns a pair of defenders and two goalkeepers from the 2012 squad that ranked 10th in the nation with a 0.48 shutout percentage. Patrolling the outside flanks will be juniors Shawn McLaws and Uchenna Uzo, both of whom earned National Team of the Week honors from TopDrawerSoccer.com last season. Junior Federico Bertele (19 starts, 0.76 goals against average) and senior Mark Petrus (3 starts, 1.46 goals against average) are the returning goalkeepers.

Coastal’s No. 17 ranking will be tested early and often this season as the Chants face four teams ranked on College Soccer News’ preseason list. The Chanticleers open the year with the Carolina Nike Classic, playing at No. 18 Wake Forest (Aug. 30) before playing at No. 5 North Carolina (Sept. 1). Coastal returns home to face No. 24 Charlotte (Sept. 6) in the third game of the season and will face off against No. 27 VCU on Sept. 27.

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