Chants soar into season, Sun Belt in national polls

ccusoc-headerFor the fifth time in as many seasons the Coastal Carolina University men’s soccer team will open the season ranked among the top-25 teams in the nation as the Chanticleers check in at No. 21 in the 2016 preseason coaches’ poll, administered by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA).

The 2015 national champion Stanford Cardinal will begin the season at No. 1, while the University of Akron ranks second. Clemson, Maryland and Wake Forest round out the top five in the poll. Four of Coastal’s 2016 regular season opponents are ranked in the initial poll (No. 3 Clemson, No. 17 Virginia, No. 22 Charlotte and No. 24 South Carolina), while two additional opponents received votes (Radford and VCU).

The Chants will be tested quickly to start the season as they open the season at No. 17 and seven-time national champion Virginia on Aug. 26 before facing William & Mary on Aug. 29. The squad makes its home debut at the CCU Soccer Stadium against VCU on Sept. 2, then hosts UAB on Sept. 5 and welcomes No. 24 South Carolina to the Grand Strand on Sept. 9.

Coastal is coming off a 13-win campaign that was also highlighted by the program’s program-best regular season ranking of fourth during two weeks in late September and early October. In addition, Coastal ranked No. 20 in the final NSCAA poll, marking the fifth consecutive and eighth time overall that the Chanticleers have ended the season ranked among the top 25 programs in the nation.

The Chants finished the 2015 season ranked 10 in the NCAA with a 0.66 goals against average, 11th in winning percentage (.750) and 12th with a .500 shutout percentage.

This season veteran head coach Shaun Docking returns 10 letterman, including five starters, as the program plays its inaugural season in the Sun Belt Conference. Four of the five starters were named All-Big South last season with Louis Dargent, Elis Bjornsson and Einar Einarsson earning second team honors, while Jair Espinoza was an all-freshman team selection.

The Chanticleers are slated to open their fall training schedule on Wed., Aug. 10 in preparation for their first preseason match at home against ACC member NC State on Aug. 15.

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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