CCU soccer faces tough path for NCAA tournament return

The Coastal Carolina men’s soccer team will begin its fall 2012 campaign with a road exhibition against defending national champion North Carolina on Aug. 18 and will play four teams that reached the 2011 NCAA Tournament, including a home rematch against first round opponent Elon.

The schedule also features home games with regional foes College of Charleston and UNC Greensboro along with trips to South Carolina and national runner-up UNC Charlotte.

The Chanticleers return two NSCAA All-Americans in striker Ashton Bennett, the nation’s leading goal scorer, and midfielder Pedro Ribeiro. Coastal finished the 2011 season ranked 16th in the nation with an 18-4-0 record. Head coach Shaun Docking – who has led the Chants to 10 Big South regular season and tournament championships and nine NCAA tournaments – is entering his 15th season at Coastal.

The first of 10 official home games will be against first-year Big South Conference member Longwood on Friday, Aug. 24. Coastal then plays its next three games away from Conway with matches against UNC Charlotte, Ohio State and Wright State at the Buckeyes’ Wolstein Classic in Columbus, Ohio.

The Coastal Carolina University Invitational on Sept. 7 and Sept. 9 will mark the Chants’ only regular-season home tournament of 2012. Coastal will host Florida Atlantic on Friday night and Bowling Green on Sunday afternoon. Southern Conference member Wofford rounds out the tournament field.

The Chants then host Elon in a rematch of last season’s NCAA Tournament first round, a 4-3 win by the Chants, on Sept. 15.

A trip to NCAA Tournament participant and rival Liberty is followed by a four-game home stand as Coastal welcomes UNC Greensboro, College of Charleston, Presbyterian and UNC Asheville to the CCU Soccer Field.

Following a home date with Winthrop, the Chants will be on the road for five games with trips to Campbell, VMI and Gardner-Webb before stepping out of conference to play in-state rival South Carolina for the first time since the 2004 season. A final trek north to Radford rounds out the Chants’ road slate.

The Chants close out the regular-season on Nov. 3 as hosts to High Point.

The 2012 Big South Championships run from Nov. 6-11, with the top four seeds hosting the first round. The semifinals and final will be held at Bryan Park in Greensboro, N.C. The NCAA tournament begins Nov. 15 and concludes with the College Cup in Hoover, Ala., on Dec. 7 and 9.

The Chanticleers will open training camp on Wednesday, Aug. 8.

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