Picked 3rd in Big South, Men's Soccer opens pre-season schedule Tuesday at Clemson

BUIES CREEK, N.C. – Coach Steve Armas will have his first opportunity to evaluate his 2012 Campbell University men's soccer team Tuesday when the Camels travel to Clemson for a 7:00 p.m. pre-season match at Riggs Field.

The Camels were also picked in the same spot they finished last year (third) in the 2012 Big South Conference pre-season coaches poll released Monday.

Ranked 17th in the NSCAA pre-season national poll, defending regular season champion and 2011 NCAA College Cup participant Coastal Carolina was a unanimous selection atop the 2012 Big South list with 121 points.  High Point (99), which upset the 3rd-seeded Camels in the 2011 Big South tournament first round, was tabbed second followed by Campbell (94) and 2011 league tourney champ Liberty (88).

Gardner-Webb (70) was chosen fifth, two-points ahead of Radford (68), while Winthrop (50) was seventh and Big South newcomer Longwood (48) eighth.  UNC Asheville (39), Presbyterian (25) and VMI (24) rounded out the 11-team pre-season poll.

"It is an honor and a compliment to be picked to finish third by the other Big South Conference coaches," said Armas.  "Going into our second year in the Big South, being picked to finish higher than the year before says a lot about the respect we were able to gain from last year's season.  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.  What happens in preseason has no bearing on the outcome of the season. We will use this as motivation and continue to focus on our team goals."

Coming off a 9-9-2 season in 2011, Armas has 14 letter winners, including nine starters, back from his side that finished third in the Big South Conference standings (5-4-0).

Among those back are first-team All-Big South Conference and All-South Atlantic Region midfielder Mitchell Cardenas, plus second-team all-league performers Justin Franz and Travis Golden, as well as all-freshman team honoree Jhuvon Francis.

Cardenas, who spent a part of the summer training with Sporting KC of MLS, enters his senior season with 48 career points on 14 goals and 20 assists in 57 matches.  Last season, the native of Mexico City who prepped at College Park High School in Texas, established career highs for games started (20), minutes played (1730), goals (6) and points (18), while ranking among the league's top 10 in points, assists (6) and game-winning goals (2).

A junior from Cedar Park, Texas, Franz scored twice and assisted on four other goals in 2011.  Golden, who hails from Austin, Texas, played every minute in 13-straight matches in the central defense from mid-Sept. through Nov. 1.  The duo also joined forces this summer with the Austin Aztex of the USL Premier Development League.

Francis produced all 10 of his points on 4 goals and 2 assists last year vs. Big South competition.  The product of Kingston, Jamaica played in 18 matches with 12 starts before missing the final two outings due to injury.

Joining Francis in the attack is senior Keegan Terry, who has scored 13 times in 54 career matches.

Also returning to veteran back line are senior Ben Iiames, who has been in the Fighting Camel first 11 for the last 51 matches, and junior Aleksi Tossavainen, who has started all 39 games in his collegiate career.  Junior keeper Ethan Hall returns after posting a 1.86 goals against average in 12 outings a year ago.

On Tuesday, the Camels will face a Clemson squad that finished 2011 with an 8-8-2 overall mark, 4-4 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.  The Tigers also amassed a 2-3-1 record last year against nationally-ranked foes, including a win over top-ranked Maryland.

"We are looking forward to our trip to Clemson," said Armas.  "The team has looked promising in our preseason camp thus far.  We have been training and focusing on incorporating the new players with the returners so it will be a great opportunity to put that into a live game.  Clemson has a rich soccer history and they play in one of the best conferences in the country. This exhibition game should allow us to put some things into practice as well as expose some areas that we will need to work on in preparation for the regular season."

Tuesday's match marks the first of four ACC schools the Camels will face in the 2012 campaign, including dates at N.C. State (Sept. 18) and North Carolina (Oct. 23), plus a home contest with Virginia Tech (Oct. 2).  In 2011, the Camels went 1-0-1 vs. ACC members with a 1-0 OT win at home over the Wolfpack and a 1-1 draw with the Hokies at Blacksburg, Va.

Campbell hosts Richmond Saturday (6:00 p.m.) at the Eakes Athletic Complex in its final pre-season match.  The Camels open the regular season at 16th-ranked Southern Methodist. 

Big South Conference Men's Soccer
Pre-Season Coaches Poll

School (1st place votes)

Points

2011 Record

2011 Big South Record

1. Coastal Carolina (11) #

121

18-4-0

9-0-0

2. High Point

99

9-9-3

4-4-1

3. Campbell

94

9-9-2

5-4-0

4. Liberty *

88

11-6-3

4-4-1

5. Gardner-Webb

70

9-8-4

5-3-1

6. Radford

68

9-8-2

4-4-1

7. Winthrop

50

7-12-0

4-5-0

8. Longwood

48

11-6-3

--

9. UNC Asheville

39

4-12-3

3-5-1

10. Presbyterian

25

3-14-0

3-6-0

11. VMI

24

1-15-2

1-7-1

# 2011 regular season champion
* 2011 Big South tournament champion