Coastal soccer faces tough tests for repeat NCAA bid

ccusoc-carmargo2Coastal Carolina University men’s soccer head coach Shaun Docking announced his squad’s 2014 schedule Wednesday.

The reigning Big South regular season and tournament champion Chanticleers will take on five NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago after reaching the NCAA Round of 16 for the second consecutive season and fourth time in program history.

The challenging schedule features five teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2013, nine home fixtures at the CCU Soccer Stadium and matches against in-state rivals South Carolina and Clemson.

Coastal plays a pair of exhibition matches before the regular season kicks off Aug. 29. The Chanticleers host Old Dominion in their first exhibition match Tuesday, Aug. 19, before closing the exhibition slate against Wofford on Aug. 23.

The 2014 regular season opens with the Chanticleers heading north to play perennial powers Connecticut and Maryland. The Chants are slated to play at UConn on Friday, Aug. 29, before traveling down to College Park to take on the 2013 College Cup finalist Terrapins on Monday, Sept. 1. Coastal has never played UConn in its previous 34 seasons of play, while the Maryland game will be a rematch of the sides’ fixture in the third round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament.

The Chants conclude their three-game season-opening road swing at Charlotte on Sept. 5. Charlotte and Coastal met twice on the pitch last season, with the 49ers claiming a regular season victory in Conway and the Chanticleers winning in Charlotte in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Coastal opens in front of the home fans at the CCU Soccer Stadium, where the team is 78-20-6 all-time, on Saturday, Sept. 13, against Furman. The Chants then welcome South Carolina to Conway for the second straight season on Sept. 16. Coastal closes the three-game homestand on Saturday, Sept. 20, against Conference USA power UAB.

Coastal begins its Big South regular season title defense at Gardner-Webb on Sept. 24.

A one-game homestand awaits the Chanticleers as Elon comes to the CCU Soccer Stadium on Sept. 27. The team then returns to the road for contests at NC State (Sept. 30) and Campbell (Oct. 4).

The Chanticleers’ next two matches will be played in Conway as Presbyterian (Oct. 7), UNC Asheville (Oct. 11) come to the Grand Strand. A non-conference trip to ACC member Clemson on Oct. 14 precedes Coastal’s final five matches of the season. A match at Liberty, who Coastal defeated in the 2013 Big South Championship match, follows on Oct. 18 as the Chants will play in the Flames’ recently renovated Osborne Stadium for the first time.

Coastal returns home to face Winthrop on Oct. 29 then travels to Radford (Nov. 1) before closing out the regular season at home against High Point (Nov. 5) and Longwood (Nov. 8).

The Big South Championship will begin Nov. 11 on campus sites with the semifinals (Nov. 14) and finals (Nov. 16) taking place at Bryan Park in Greensboro, N.C.

The NCAA Tournament starts on Nov. 20 with the first four rounds hosted on campus sites. The College Cup will take place Dec. 12 and 14 in Cary, N.C., and will be hosted at WakeMed Soccer Park.

Photo by Joel Beachum

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