KANSAS CITY, MO - Lees-McRae College Men's Soccer Head Coach Chris Whalley was named as the National Soccer Coaches Association of America/adidas Southeast Region Coach of the Year for 2007. Whalley is also a finalist for the NSCAA/adidas National Coach of the Year.
In his third year as Head Coach of the Bobcats, Whalley led the team to its best season in program history in 2007, finishing with a 21-2-1 record. The Bobcats qualified for the NCAA Men's Soccer Championships for the first time, winning the NCAA Southeast Regional with a pair of wins over Queens (3-0) and Lander (1-0) before falling to Montevallo (0-2) in the NCAA Elite Eight. The Bobcats finished the season with a final post season national ranking of seventh in the country, eclipsing the previous program best final ranking of 22nd set in 2002.
The Bobcats, who finished the season as the nation's highest scoring offense averaging 3.33 goals per game, also made Conference Carolinas history as the only team in the history of the conference, (formerly known as the Carolinas-Virginia Athletic Conference), to claim both the regular season and tournament championships in the same season. The regular season title was the Bobcats first since 2001 while the tournament championship was the first since 2003. The Bobcats 21 wins in 2007 is the best in program history, as is the 16 game winning streak that was halted in the NCAA Elite Eight. After a setting a new program record with 13 shutouts this season, the Bobcats finished as the ninth best defensive team in the country allowing just 0.65 goals per game and finished with third best winning percentage in the nation, 0.896.
After starting the season unranked, the Bobcats cracked the NSCAA/adidas poll after the second week of the season, entering the Top 25 at #19 after a 4-0 start. After a 1-0-1 week defeating Erskine and tying #15 Clayton State University, the Bobcats moved up to #11, a program best at the time. Following a heartbreaking last minute 1-0 loss in double overtime to conference foe Anderson, the Bobcats dropped to #18 in the poll with a 5-1-1 record. The Bobcats would respond by winning a program record 16 consecutive games, jumping to #7 to crack to the top ten for the first time after week five. Catapulting the Bobcats through the national rankings, the streak was started by three consecutive shutouts, moving the Bobcats to #3 after week six and up one to number two after week seven. The Bobcats would hold the #2 ranking; the program's new all time best, through weeks eight, nine and ten and into the NCAA Tournament.
After claiming Conference Carolinas Coach of the Year honors, Whalley had seven of his players named to the All Conference Carolinas team including five named to the First Team led by Player of the Year Berin Boracic (Orlando, FL). Boracic also claimed the Daktronics Southeast Region Player of the Year as six Bobcats earned Daktronics All Region honors, four of whom were named to the First Team. When Daktronics announced their All American teams, all four All Region members were named, one each to the First, Second, Third and Honorable Mention teams.
"The NSCAA/adidas Regional Coach of the Year award is a tremendous honor that I must share with my assistants, Nick Young and Calvin Dixon, as well as with my players," stated Whalley. "I am very thankful to be acknowledged by my peers with this award, however the team goals that we set for ourselves and the championships mean so much more. We reached some of those goals this year winning the Conference, playing in November by qualifying for the NCAA Tournament, and being recognized as one of the top teams in the country, however we still have much work to do in order for us to achieve some of the other goals that we have set for ourselves."
Whalley's three year career record as a Head Coach, all of which have been above .500, now stands at 37-16-6. Whalley and the Bobcats will have high expectations for 2008 as they lose just four players to graduation.
PICTURED TOP LEFT: 2007 Conference Carolinas and NSCAA/adidas Southeast Region Coach of the Year Chris Whalley
PICTURED BELOW TOP: 2007 Conference Carolinas, Daktronics Southeast Region Player of the Year, and Daktronics All American Berin Boracic in NCAA Tournament action.
PICTURED BELOW BOTTOM: 2007 All Conference Carolinas, Daktronics
Southeast Region First Teamer, and Daktronics Second Team All
American Lee Squires in NCAA Tournament action.