CCU picked to defend title; Ribeiro, Uzo claim awards

The 13th ranked Coastal Carolina men’s soccer team has been voted first in the Big South Conference’s annual preseason poll, as voted by the league’s head men’s soccer coaches, it was announced today by the league office.

In addition, the coaches voted Chanticleer midfielder Pedro Ribeiro the league’s Preseason Attacking Player of the Year and Coastal defender Uchenna Uzo the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.

The Chanticleers’ sweep of the Preseason Player of the Year awards is the second in as many seasons for the program. Last year, eventual NSCAA All-American Ashton Bennett was named the Preseason Attacking Player of the Year, while Kjartan Sigurdsson, who is playing professionally in his native Iceland, garnered Preseason Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Ribeiro, a Belo Horizonte, Brazil, native, enters his senior campaign as one of Coastal’s stalwarts in the midfield having notched 51 starts and 63 appearances in his three seasons as a Chanticleer. Ribeiro is a two-time Big South first team selection and earned All-Southeast Region honors from the NSCAA in both 2011 and 2012. The 6-foot-3 midfielder is also one of Coastal’s six all-time NSCAA All-Americans, earning third team honors following his sophomore season.

Ribeiro finished the 2012 season with five goals and 10 assists for 20 points despite missing four games in the middle of the season with an injury. In 2012 he notched a pair of game winners for the Chants, including a late goal in Coastal’s 1-0 win at Gardner-Webb. He also recorded a pair of goals in Coastal’s 3-nil NCAA Tournament First Round win over Elon. The 2013 College Soccer News Preseason All-American and MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List member collected eight top bids and 19 points from the panel. High Point’s Mamadee Nyepon placed second in the voting with one top vote and seven points.

Uzo, a junior defender from Lagos, Nigeria, was named to the NSCAA All-South Atlantic Region and Big South second teams in 2012. The center back also earned All-Big South Tournament honors to go along with National Team of the Week recognition by TopDrawerSoccer.com (Oct. 22) and College Soccer News (Nov. 19). The two-time Big South Defensive Player of the Week appeared in all 25 of Coastal’s matches, drawing starts in the final 23.

Uzo scored four goals and notched an assist to tally nine points for the season. His exceptional play along Coastal’s backline helped the Chants to a 0.85 goals against average – tops in the Big South and 27th-best in the NCAA. With Uzo on patrol in the back, Coastal posted 12 shutouts and allowed only two goals in Big South regular season play. Uzo grabbed seven first-place votes and 18 points from the panel, ahead of Winthrop’s Magnus Thorsson, who notched two top votes and seven points.

Coastal Carolina, which looks to capture its third straight Big South regular season championship and 12th overall, collected eight first-place votes and 116 points from the panel. An at-large selection to the NCAA Tournament, the Chanticleers handily downed Elon at home then traveled to and defeated Wake Forest in the second round before falling to College Cup participant Maryland in the third round. The Chanticleers finished last season unscathed in the Big South with a 10-0-0 record and a 20-3-2 overall mark. The team’s 20 wins tied the 2003 squad for the most victories in both Coastal and Big South history.

Campbell placed second in the voting with two first-place votes and 104 points. High Point finished third in the voting with 87 points, just ahead of Radford with 86 points. Winthrop placed fifth with one top vote and 85 points. At No. 6 was Liberty with 73 points and at No. 7 was Gardner-Webb with 50 points. Longwood came in at the No. 8 slot with 42 points, ahead of Presbyterian College with 34 points. UNC Asheville’s 30 points was good for 10th and VMI rounds out the voting with 19 points.

The Chants open the season on Friday, Aug. 30 at No. 18 Wake Forest at 8 p.m. as part of the Carolina Nike Classic. Coastal concludes the Classic at No. 4 North Carolina with a 7 p.m. first kick on Sunday, Sept. 1.

Photo by Joel Beachum, Carolina Click Photos

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