Chants face familiar foe in first round of NCAA tourney

Two familiar foes meet again on the pitch today as Coastal Carolina hosts Elon in the first round of the NCAA Soccer Tournament.

It should be an epic battle of legendary birds – the Chanticleer and the Phoenix. It will also be a battle of too high-scoring teams looking to add to those totals.

The Coastal Carolina men’s soccer team has scored 57 goals, while only allowing 16 through the first 22 games of the 2012 season. Elon University has scored 46 goals, while allowing 30 goals this season.

On Sept.  14, the two teams met in Conway, and Coastal came away with a 2-1 victory. Uchenna Uzo and Ricky Garbanzo both scored for the Chanticleers.

“We are very familiar with Elon. They have the nation’s leading goal scorer (Chris Thomas),” said CCU men’s soccer coach Shaun Docking. “It should be a fun game. Elon, RPI-wise was a bit higher than us, but they did not put a bid in, so we ended up getting the bid to host. I think that it is great for the Grand Strand that you have got two very offensive-minded college soccer teams playing.”

Elon is also a familiar foe because Coastal defeated them 4-3 in the NCAA Tournament first round in 2011 in Conway. Coastal went on to lose in a heartbreaker to eventual national champion North Carolina.

After going 18-4 and winning the Big South Conference Regular Season Championship, Coastal has gone 18-2-2 this season to date, going a perfect  10-0 in the BSC in the regular season.

To date, Coastal has outshot its opponents 439-182 this season. They have taken 141 corner kicks, while its opponents have taken just 84. Bennett, who was the nation’s leading goal scorer in 2011, leads the team with 15 goals and nine assists. Garbanzo is second on the team in scoring with 13 goals and five assists. Pedro Ribeiro is third on the team in scoring with three goals and 10 assists.

“This is one of the better teams that we have had since I have been here in 15 years. We have some real dangerous players,” Docking said. “Hopefully, they will have a good game tonight and we can move on in the tournament. We have a pretty athletic team with some very good athletes.”

The Chanticleers have been ranked as high as No. 7 in the nation in some polls, and No. 8 in other polls. They are currently ranked No. 13 in the country after losing to Winthrop in the BSC championship game on Sunday.

“To be as high as No. 7 in the country in the entire Division I (is quite an honor). We are the highest ranked South Carolina school this year. We are the only South Carolina university to get an at-large bid,” said Docking about the season. “We have a lot of good records set this year. Hopefully, we can continue setting records.”

One of the best things that should help Coastal is the fact that they have played such a difficult schedule this season. The Chanticleers started off the season with an exhibition match at North Carolina, in which they tied defending national champion Tar Heels  1-1 in Cary. They tied Ohio State on the road. They lost only 1-0 in double overtime to 2011 NCAA Runner-Up UNC-Charlotte on the road.

“We have played some very good teams. We played Ohio State on the road. Charlotte, when they were number three in the country on the road. We played a bunch of Southern Conference teams. It gets you ready to play big games. Have to keep our fingers crossed that we well be ready to take them,” added Docking.

The game kicks off at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at the gate for $7.

Photo courtesy of BSC Athletics

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