Nighthawks Voted Seventh In Peach Belt Men's Soccer Preseason Poll
AUGUSTA, Georgia – (PeachBeltConference.org) – Lander University has been selected as the top preseason contender for the 2013 Peach Belt Conference men's soccer crown in a vote of the league's head coaches released on Monday. The Bearcats received five of a possible nine first-place votes to finish with 72 points in the poll. Young Harris and Flagler were tied for second with 68 points each while Montevallo was fourth with 56. Clayton State, UNC Pembroke, North Georgia, USC Aiken, Francis Marion and Georgia Southwestern rounded out the voting.
Lander captured the 2012 PBC regular-season championship, their seventh championship in school history and second in the last three seasons. The Bearcats were 7-1-1 in league play last year, 12-3-2 overall and reached the NCAA Tournament. For 2013, the team lost only five seniors from last year's squad and return All-Conference selections Chris Hobbs to the midfield and Clement Dauchy up top.
Young Harris finished fourth in the PBC standings in their first year as a part of the Peach Belt and advanced to the semifinals of the PBC Tournament where they fell in a penalty-kick shootout. The Mountain Lions were ranked as high as #6 in the nation during the season and return senior midfielder Niall McCabe, who led the PBC with 15 goals last year. Also back is junior forward Ilija Ilic who scored 10 goals and was named All-Conference.
Flagler reached the third round of the NCAA tournament in 2012 after finishing in a tie for second in the PBC standings last year. Ranked as high as #4 in the nation during the year, the Saints were 10-5-4 overall last year, 6-2-1 in league play. The Saints return eight starters and 18 letter winners from last year's club including Kevin Keenan and Zach Shanahan, both of whom were named to the preseason All-Conference team on Friday.
Montevallo won their second PBC Tournament championship in the last three years in 2012, but will have to make the adjustment to a new head coach in 2013 as Bruce Dietterle takes the reigns. However, the Falcons have six seniors returning, including goalkeeper Brendan Ledgeway, the 2012 PBC Player of the Year. Also back are senior defenders Ricky Davey and Gary O'Neill, both of whom joined Ledgeway on the preseason All-Conference team.
The 2013 men's soccer season begins on Sept. 5 with six games on the schedule. Conference play begins in earnest on Sept. 14 and continues through the PBC Tournament Nov. 5, 8-10 with the final four once again at Blanchard Woods Park in Evans, Ga., site of the 2013 NCAA National Championships.
The 2013 preseason coaches poll is listed below. Teams were given nine points for a first-place vote, eight for a second-place and so on. Coaches were not permitted to rank their own teams.
2013 Peach Belt Conference Men's Soccer Preseason Poll