Lander Chosen as Men's Soccer Preseason Favorite
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The Lander Bearcats have been selected as the team to beat in 2007 according to a preseason poll of the league’s men’s soccer coaches released on Tuesday. The Bearcats received all six first-place votes available to edge out Clayton State, who finished second. USC Aiken was third followed by UNC Pembroke, Francis Marion, North Georgia and Georgia Southwestern.
The Bearcats claimed a share of the PBC Championship in 2006, won the PBC Tournament and hosted the Southeast Regional of the NCAA Tournament. With nine of 11 starters returning for 2007, the team may be even stronger. Back is PBC Player of the Year Nick Cooke who led the conference with 20 goals last year. Also back is PBC Freshman of the Year Adam Arthur who had 15 goals and 11 assists a season ago. Also returning is All-Conference goalkeeper Garret Daum who was second in the PBC with a 0.74 goals against average and had a league-best nine shutouts.
Clayton State were PBC co-Champions in 2006 with a 5-2 conference mark and have a strong core of returning players for 2007. All-conference senior Hailab Habtom is back after leading the team with 10 goals and 11 assists a year ago as is All-PBC midfielder Johnny Lara. The Lakers should be stout on defense with the return of Danny English and Jordan Gilbert, but have to replace graduated goalkeeper Heath Padgett.
USC Aiken was the surprise team in the PBC in 2006, finishing third in the PBC standing and advancing to the tournament championship game for the first time in school history. The Pacers return eight starters from last year’s 12-6-2 team including All-Conference forward Reuben Ojeyinka who had five goals and seven assists. The Pacers will have to readjust their defense as well with the graduation of All-Conference defender Wacey Benjamin and goalkeeper Harold Tate.
The PBC preseason coaches poll is included below. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own teams. The 2007 men’s soccer season begins on Aug. 23 with conference play starting Sept. 15 and continuing on to the PBC Tournament Oct. 30 to Nov. 4.
|2007 Peach Belt Conference Preseason Coaches Poll|
|2. Clayton State||1||5||0||0||0||0||31|
|3. USC Aiken||0||1||4||1||0||0||24|
|4. UNC Pembroke||0||1||3||2||0||0||23|
|5. Francis Marion||0||0||0||2||3||1||13|
|6. North Georgia||0||0||0||1||4||1||12|
|7. Georgia Southwestern||0||0||0||1||0||5||8|