Thomasville, NC -- The Queens University of Charlotte men's soccer team has been picked to finish first in the first year of the newly named Conference Carolinas according to a vote of the league's head coaches. Queens finished just one point ahead of Limestone College in one of the closet preseason polls in recent league history. Both Queens and Limestone advanced to the NCAA DII Sweet Sixteen playoffs, where the teams played a great game with Queens advancing to the Elite Eight with a 2-1 victory.
The Royals are coming off their Elite Eight season with a 12-5-3 record and now rank number No. 14 in the 2007 NSCAA/Adidas Division II National Preseason Poll. They bring back a solid core of players from the team that also won last year's regular season conference championship finishing 8-2 in league play. The Royals have made four NCAA Tournament appearances (2006, 2004, 2002 and 1999), own six conference tournament titles and eight regular season conference championships. Key players returning for Queens are goalkeeper Dan Williams; defenders David Palma, Chad Pinnick and Jamie Kentrel Harris; midfielder Aaron Doyle; and forwards Shane Burroughs and Logan Berrier. Veteran Head Coach Fred Norchi has added 11 new freshmen to the Royals squad.
The Limestone College men's soccer team is coming off its best season in school history. In 2006, the Saints, who were 13-3-6 overall and 6-2-2 in league play, earned their first national ranking, won their first conference tournament title, made their first appearance in the NCAA national tournament advancing to the Sweet 16, and were named the Most Improved Team in the nation for Division II. This year's squad has been ranked No. 20 in the 2007 NSCAA/Adidas Division II National Preseason Poll. They are eager to build on this year's rankings and last year's success with the return of several key starters, including All-American midfielder Tom Beattie and 2006 Conference Freshman of the Year and All-Region Team member, forward Ali Benson. Other All-Conference/All-Region honorees on the Saints roster include goalkeeper Ryan Robinson and defender Adam Ennis, along with CVAC Conference All-Tournament and NCAA Southeast Regional All-Tournament Team members: midfielder Joel Moran, midfielder Sean Boyle, and defender Dominic Casciato. Several new freshman and transfers will add more depth to Limestone's 2007 lineup.
Belmont Abbey was picked to finish third in the preseason coaches' poll, and welcomes back seven starters from last year's team that finished 13-5-2 overall and 7-1-2 in conference play. One of those starters returning is senior forward Luis Arrieta, who was the first Abbey player to be named Conference Player of the Year after leading the league with 20 goals. He was further rewarded with the Daktronics Southeast Region Player of the Year. Along with Arrieta, the Crusaders return All-Conference picks Kyle Fenner and Seth Lowther. Fenner, a second team pick last season, starts as the Abbey's left back and recorded three assists last year. Lowther was one of the top goalkeepers in the league last season, as he finished tied for second in total shutouts and third in shutouts per game. He also finished ninth in saves per game and third with a 1.10 goals against average.
Pfeiffer finished fourth in the poll with Lees-McRae fifth, followed by Mount Olive and St. Andrews (tied), Anderson, Erskine, Coker, and Barton respectively rounding-out the poll standings.
Conference Carolinas Men's Soccer Preseason Poll (# of First
Place Votes in Parenthesis)
1. Queens (5) 94
2. Limestone (5) 93
3. Belmont Abbey (1) 85
4. Pfeiffer 60
5. Lees-McRae 59
T-6 Mount Olive 54
T-6 St. Andrews 54
8. Anderson 45
9. Erskine 24
10. Coker 22
11. Barton 15