Camels open men’s soccer season Friday at home vs. State

Ricki Gaez
(Bennett Scarborough photo)
Ricki Gaez (Bennett Scarborough photo)

@GoCamelsMSOC |

BUIES CREEK, N.C. – Campbell opens its 2013 season Friday at home with a 7 p.m. kick-off against Atlantic Coast Conference foe North Carolina State.  Campbell hosts VMI Tuesday (7:00 p.m.) before playing road games at Davidson (Sept. 11) and Loyola (Md.) (Sept. 14).

PROMOTIONS:  Friday, August 30 is National College Colors Day.  Fighting Camel fans are urged to wear Orange & Black all day.  Friday's promotions include free Campbell men's soccer posters and schedule cards, a Back to School party for the Camel Kid's Club and post-game autograph session.

2012 RECORDS:  CAMPBELL (12-5-2, 7-3 Big South) went 5-1-1 over its last 7 games in 2012 tied for 3rd in the Big South Conference and finished 9th in the final NSCAA South Atlantic Region poll… NC STATE (10-10, 1-7) started last season with 6-straight wins and rose to as high as No.-17 in the national polls before dropping games to top-ranked Maryland (3-2) and Campbell (2-0).

CAMPBELL MEN'S SOCCER ON THE BIG SOUTH NETWORK:  Friday's game is the first of 11 contests that will be aired live (and free) on the internet via the Big South Network.  Visit or to link to live coverage, including next Tuesday's contest vs. VMI.

CAMELS PICKED 2ND IN BIG SOUTH POLL: Defending champion Coastal Carolina, ranked 14th nationally in the pre-season NSCAA rating, was picked first a pre-season poll of 11 Big South coaches with 116 points and eight first-place votes.  Campbell (two first place votes) was second with 104 points, followed by High Point (87), Radford (86), Winthrop (85), Liberty (73), Gardner-Webb (50), Longwood42), Presbyterian (34), UNC Asheville (30) and VMI (19).

NC STATE SERIES:  The Wolfpack owns a 23-8-2 record in the all-time series with the Camels, but Campbell has defeated State in each of the last two years.  In 2011, Ben Iiames scored in the 91st minute at Buies Creek to lift the Camels to a 1-0 triumph.  Last year at Raleigh, Ricki Gaez and Bryce Miller found the nets for CU and Ethan Hall stopped a penalty kick in a 2-0 victory.

CORE RETURNS FOR CAMELS:  A veteran defense – led by all-conference keeper Ethan Hall and 3-year starting center back Aleksi Tossavainen – anchors the squad, while four of the team's top five scorers return in the attack.  Hall, a senior from Raleigh's Athens Drive High School, earned second-team All-Big South recognition last season after posting the best save percentage in the league (.788), while recording a 1.14 goals-against average and seven shutouts.  Tossavainen, who hails from Tampere, Finland, has started 58-straight games since his arrival on campus.  Also back are senior defenders Eduardo Rodriguez (Cary, N.C./Green Hope), Travis Golden (Austin, Texas/James Bowie) and senior midfielder Justin Franz (Cedar Park, Texas/Vista Ridge).  The group helped lead Campbell to a 2-2-1 record against nationally-ranked teams in 2012 and a 2-1 mark against Atlantic Coast Conference members.  The junior class boasts Campbell's top returning scoring threats in Ricki Gaez (Panama City, Panama), who netted eight goals and three assists last year.  Jhuvon Francis (Kingston, Jamaica) added five goals and two assists, while Bryce Miller (Roanoke, Va./Patrick Henry) had four strikes and set up four others.  Junior Scooter Oliver (Cary, N.C./Panther Creek) returns to his defensive midfield role, while Isaiah Page (Brampton, Ontario) figures to build on an all-freshman team campaign in an attacking midfield position.

TOUGH SLATE AHEAD:  Campbell will take on three schools this year that are ranked in the NSCAA pre-season national poll.  No.-4 North Carolina visits the Eakes Complex on Sept. 17 before the Camels travel to Charlotte (No. 21) four days later.  Defending Big South regular season champ Coastal Carolina is ranked 13th (CU plays the Chanticleers at Conway, S.C. on Nov. 6).  In addition, Elon, which comes to Buies Creek Oct. 1, also received votes in the pre-season ranking.

HOME, SWEET HOME:  Since the start of the 2005 campaign, Campbell owns a 45-20-2 (.687) record at the Eakes Athletic Complex -- including 4 wins over nationally-ranked teams at the site.  CU finished 7-1-1 at home in 2012 and owns an 11-1-1 mark at Eakes dating to the 2011 season.

HEAD COACH STEVE ARMAS (Maryland, '03) is in his fourth year in charge of the Camel program and has guided his teams to a 27-23-8 overall record, 16-12-0 in league regular season play.  Under Armas' direction, the Camels are 3-2-1 vs. Atlantic Coast Conference members and 2-7-2 vs. nationally-ranked teams.

ACC SUCCESS UNDER ARMAS: Under the guidance of 4th-year head coach Steve Armas, a 2003 Maryland graduate, the Camels own a 3-2-1 record against members of the Atlantic Coast Conference.  The setbacks came at 10th-ranked Virginia in 2010 and 4th-ranked North Carolina (Oct. 23, 2012).  In 2011, Campbell defeated NC State 1-0 in Buies Creek and drew 1-1 at Virginia Tech.  During 2012, the Camels won at 17th-ranked NC State 2-0 and defeated Virginia Tech 3-0 before falling at UNC... This season, the Camels open the year at home against the Wolfpack (Aug. 30) and host UNC (Sept. 17).