CCU soccer leaps to No. 5; Pina, Gutierrez net honors

ccusoc-pinaNot only does Coastal Carolina University boast the nation’s top-ranked FCS football team, but also the nation’s fifth-ranked men’s soccer program as Chanticleer futbol was ranked fifth by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America’s (NSCAA) weekly top-25 coaches’ poll, the association announced Tuesday.

Coastal Carolina is the only institution in all of NCAA Division I to have both its football and men’s soccer program hold a top-five ranking by their respective coaches’ polls. In addition to their No. 5 ranking in the NSCAA poll, the Chants are also ranked sixth by College Soccer News.

The Chants current national ranking equals the 2013 team’s No. 5 ranking achieved in late October during an impressive 11-game win streak as the highest in program history. Coastal soccer has opened the season with a 4-0-1 record, including two wins and a draw on the road. The Chants have scored nine goals in their five matches, while only conceding one. Moreover, each of Coastal’s four victories have come by a 2-nil score line.

Statistically, the Chanticleers rank fourth in the NCAA with a 0.80 shutout percentage, fourth in team save percentage (0.96), fifth in team goals against average (0.19) and eighth in winning percentage (0.90). The Coastal attack averages 1.8 goals per game to rank 37th nationally, while its 5.4 points per game average ranks 35th.

The Chanticleers, who are led by 18th-year head coach Shaun Docking, have successfully navigated one of the strongest opening schedules in the nation. The Chants opened the season at No. 22 Old Dominion and dealt the Monarchs a 2-0 defeat. Coastal then faced VCU, which was receiving votes in several national polls at the time, and again won 2-nil. The squad made it three straight wins by the familiar ‘dos a cero’ score line with its home victory over regional rival and 18th-ranked Charlotte.

Coastal’s 3-0-0 start set up a marquee matchup with in-state rival and sixth-ranked Clemson on Labor Day. The Chanticleers and Tigers proved neither team was superior as the sides played to a 1-1 draw in front of nearly 2,700 Tiger faithful. Coastal then moved to 4-0-1 with another 2-0 victory – this time against William & Mary.

The Chants’ 4-0-1 record to start the season is the program’s best since the 2004 squad started 6-0-0, while the three straight season-opening shutouts tied the 2000 team for the best in program history. Moreover, Coastal’s one goal against through the season’s first five matches is the fewest allowed since the 2012 team surrendered two against in its first five outings.

Individually, Chanticleers Fernando Pina and Miguel Gutierrez have been honored for their outstanding play both national media outlets and the Big South Conference. Pina, a goalkeeper, was named to the College Soccer News and TopDrawerSoccer.com National Team of the Week along with earning Big South Conference Defensive Player of the Week and a spot on CollegeSoccer360.com’s Primetime Performers Weekly Honor Roll (week ending Aug. 30). Gutierrez, a defender, was honored as a member of the College Soccer News National Team of the Week and as the Big South Conference Defensive Player of the Week (week ending Sept. 6). Pina, who ranks fifth in the NCAA with his 0.96 save percentage and sixth in the nation with his 0.191 goals against average, again earned the conference Defensive Player of the Week honor for the week ending Sept. 13.

The Chanticleers return to action Mon., Sept. 21 at UAB. The Chants and Blazers are set for a 7 p.m. kickoff in Birmingham, Ala.

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