Camels picked sixth in Big South pre-season men’s soccer poll
BUIES CREEK, N.C. – Upon returning to the Big South Conference after a 17-year stint as a member of the Atlantic Sun, Campbell University has been picked to finish sixth in a pre-season poll of league men's soccer coaches.
The Camels, who return nine starters from last year's club that finished 6-9-4 overall and fifth in the A-Sun (4-5-0), received a total of 51 points, 12 behind 5th-place Radford (63) and seven clear of 7th-place Gardner-Webb (32).
Defending Big South regular season champion High Point (16-4-1 overall, 8-0-0 Big South in 2010) topped the table with eight first-place votes and 97 total points. Coastal Carolina (12-8-2, 5-2-1), which won the 2010 Big South tournament title, gained 89 points and one first-place tally.
"We have been fortunate to be picked at or near the top of the pre-season poll in each of the last six years in the Atlantic Sun, but it is important to remember that each year is unique," said second-year Campbell head coach Steve Armas. "What happened last year has no bearing on wins this year. Being picked sixth proves that with a new conference comes the unknown, but this does not necessarily determine what happens through the year. The reality is that the games still need to be played and we will still need to show up on a daily basis and perform. This 2011 men's soccer team have new challenges ahead and I can't wait to see how it all unfolds."
Liberty (10-7-1, 5-3-0) totaled 70 points to edge Winthrop (5-12-1, 3-5-0) by two for the third-place spot, followed by Radford (7-9-3, 4-3-1), which gained the final first-place vote. After Campbell (6-9-4, 4-5-0 A-Sun in 2010) and Gardner-Webb (8-11-0, 5-3-0), UNC Asheville (4-12-1, 2-6-0) followed at eighth place with 32 points, while Presbyterian (2-13-1, 0-8-0) and VMI (3-12-2, 3-5-0) rounded out the table with 21 and 19 points, respectively.
Over the last six seasons, the Camels have compiled a 36-10-5 (.755) record in regular season conference play and captured three regular season titles (2005, 2008, 2009) in addition to the 2007 Atlantic Sun tournament crown.
From the 1984-1993 seasons, Campbell University was a men's soccer power in the Big South Conference, compiling a 51-17-1 (.746) record in regular season league play, winning four Big South tournament championships and appearing in three other finals (1986, 1989, 1993).
Campbell still holds the best overall regular season league winning percentage (.746) of all current Big South members.
CU opened its pre-season last Monday with a 2-1 win at former A-Sun rival Mercer. The Camel varsity also topped a team of CU alumni 3-1 on Saturday in its final tune-up.
Twelve letter winners, including nine starters, return from the 2010 club. Among those back are first-team all-conference midfielder Mitchell Cardenas (three goals, eight assists, 14 points in 2010), second-team all-league defender Ben Iiames (who played all but 13 minutes during the 2010 campaign) and A-Sun all-freshman team midfielder Justin Franz (three goals, two assists).
The Camels open the regular season on Friday with a 4:00 p.m. kick-off at home against Furman, which is ranked 30th in the College Soccer News pre-season national poll.
2011 Big South Conference Pre-Season Men's Soccer Poll
(selected by head coaches)
1. High Point (8 first-place votes) 97 points
2. Coastal Carolina (1) 89
3. Liberty 70
4. Winthrop 68
5. Radford (1) 63
6. Campbell 51
7. Gardner-Webb 44
8. UNC Asheville 32
9. Presbyterian 21
10. VMI 19