Chants win Big South title, face ETSU in first round

ccusoc-celebrate (2)For the first time since 2010 and the 12th time in program history the Coastal Carolina Chanticleer men’s soccer team are Big South Conference tournament champions.

Coastal, the tournament’s top seed, defeated seventh-seeded Liberty by a 2-0 final in Sunday’s 2013 Big South Championship match played at Bryan Park in Greensboro, N.C.

With the win, the 12th-ranked Chanticleers receive the Big South’s automatic bid to the NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship and learned Monday that they will host East Tennessee State in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Thursday. The winner will advance to face Charlotte, which took a 2-1 win from the Chants earlier this season and earned a first-round bye. Game times are to be announced. The NCAA Tournament appearance will be the Chants’ 11 overall and fourth straight.

After a scoreless first half, it took 14:26 into the second stanza for the Chanticleers to find the eventual game-winning goal. After a run of build-up, Agust Arnarson sent a cross into the box from the right flank that was knocked down by Kevin Le Bras. Le Bras touched the ball over to Ricky Garbanzo, who turned his defender and buried his shot into the far side netting. The goal was Garbanzo’s team-high 12th of the season and first since scoring twice in the regular season finale.

Jakub Stourac made it 2-nil in Coastal’s favor in the 72nd minute as he buried a blast into the back of Liberty’s open net. Matt Risher started the scoring play as he flicked ahead a long ball into the box from near midfield toward Stourac. The ball was misplayed by Liberty’s Matt Sutarik, who left his line, leaving Stourac with an easy shot on the empty net. The marker was Stourac’s fifth this season and second-career postseason goal.

Coastal (17-4-0) continued to win the bulk of the possession battle in the late stage of the contest as the Flames (11-8-0) were desperate to find a goal.

Coastal and Liberty went into the half deadlocked a zero, despite the Chanticleers holding a commanding 12-3 advantage in the shot category and dictating the pace of play. Coastal opened the game on the offensive and stayed that way for nearly the entire half. Liberty routinely deployed 10 defenders behind the ball and looked for long ball over the top on countering opportunities.

Coastal had a pair of great looks at the game’s first goal, but LU’s Sutarik was there each time to make a diving stop. The first came in the 17th minute when Ribeiro fired a blast from long range, but Sutarik stopped the try and Arnarson’s shot attempt on the rebound went wide. Two minutes later, Ribeiro sprung Camargo on the right side of the box, but Camargo’s shot was saved wide of the goal.

The Flames had one true scoring chance in the opening frame that started with David Gray’s corner kick. Gray’s cross was punched out by Coastal’s Devin Cook. LU’s Blessing Tahuona headed the ball toward the open goal, but the Chants’ Shawn McLaws was there with a header to make the save off the line.

Coastal Carolina finished the contest with 22 shots, to the Flames’ seven.  Coastal’s Cook turned away two Liberty attacks, while Sutarik posted four saves for the Flames.

Ribeiro was named the Big South Men’s Soccer Championship tournament MVP. He was joined on the All-Tournament team by Justin Portillo, Uchenna Uzo and Shawn McLaws.

Portillo, who suffered a severe injury during the second half of Friday’s semifinal match against Radford, was given a ceremonial start. The start moved Portillo’s career total to 87, passing Sigurdur Sveinbjornsson (1984-87) for the Chanticleer all-time record.

Photo by Joel Beachum, Carolina Clicks Photos

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