Preseason Conference Rankings by BennettRank
LOCATION: Gaffney, SC
COACH: Eric Alsop is in his 13th season as the head coach. He has guided the Saints to nine consecutive top-3 finishes in the league standings.
2014 RECORD: 16-3-1 overall; 10-0 Conference Carolinas.
2014 POSTSEASON: Lost 3-1 to Young Harris in Sweet 16.
THE CORNERSTONE: Harry Cooksley (6 goals, 4 assists — top returning goal scorer for Saints).
THE SUPPORTING CAST: So. M William Picoux (5 goals, 4 assists); Gui Machado (4 goals, 2 assists); So. M Ismael Noumansana (1 goal, 3 assists); Jr. D Lalaina Randriamanantena (2 goals); Sr. GK Tom Godfrey (46 saves).
OUTLOOK: Three players are back who scored at least four goals and that bodes well for the Saints on the offensive side of the field. Cooksley, Picoux and Machado are solid playmakers as well and the presence of Godfrey in goal will make Limestone tough to score on. Limestone has won the last three regular-season league titles. The Saints are poised to keep that streak going this year and make another deep NCAA tournament run.
LOCATION: Misenheimer, NC
COACH: Bob Reasso enters his third season as the head coach. He was the head men’s soccer coach at Rutgers for 29 years, winning 351 games in that time.
2014 RECORD: 17-5-1 overall; 8-2 Conference Carolinas.
2014 POSTSEASON: Lost 6-0 to Young Harris in second round of NCAA tournament.
THE CORNERSTONE: Jr. F Nathan Regis (19 goals, 10 assists — scored second-most goals in school history).
THE SUPPORTING CAST: So. F Jaime Siaj (11 goals, 5 assists); So. M Martim Galvao (8 goals, 10 assists); Jr. M Roberto Soares (10 goals, 4 assists); Jr. F Mateo Garces-Yepes (3 goals, 3 assists); Jr. F Paco Cortez (2 goals, 3 assists); Jr. GK Nicolas Dulac (79 saves).
OUTLOOK: Dulac is arguably the best goalie in the league after coming through with 10 shutouts last year. Couple that with the fact that Pfeiffer has one of the best offenses in the nation and the Falcons have every reason to believe they can be the best team in the conference this season. The Falcons broke a school record for wins in a season last year. This year’s team should be even better considering the experience it has back.
LOCATION: Wilson, NC
COACH: Matt Akins is going into his ninth season as the head coach. He has guided Barton to four consecutive winning seasons.
2014 RECORD: 13-7 overall; 7-3 Conference Carolinas
2014 POSTSEASON: Lost 3-1 to Wingate in opening round of NCAA tournament.
THE CORNERSTONE: Jr. F Alex David (8 goals, 4 assists — leading returning goal scorer for the Bulldogs).
THE SUPPORTING CAST: Sr. M Kevin Strassburger (4 goals, 7 assists); So. M Alex Blake (2 goals); So. GK Jens Masden Hordvik (61 saves).
OUTLOOK: David is poised to be one of the top offensive threats in the league and has plenty of talent around him. Barton scored 42 goals a year ago and should be near that level offensively again this season. The Bulldogs will be one of the top three or four teams in the league and seem to have the potential to get back to the NCAA tournament.
LOCATION: Banner Elk, NC
COACH: Rich Wall begins his first season with the Bobcats. He spent last season as an assistant coach at Brevard College.
2014 RECORD: 13-5-2 overall; 6-3-1 Conference Carolinas
THE CORNERSTONE: So. M Thomas Deeley (3 goals, 3 assists — top returning goal scorer).
THE SUPPORTING CAST: So. M Nathan Watt (2 goals, 2 assists); Jr. D Marvyn Rieger (2 goals); Jr. F Jordan Wright (1 goal, 2 assists); Jr. GK Nicholas Stover (42 saves).
OUTLOOK: Two capable of goalies are on the roster as well as Tyler Pavlet also saw playing time last year and made 22 saves in eight games. The Bobcats nearly won the conference tournament title last season. Motivated by the shortcoming, don’t be surprised if they are playing for the championship again this year.
Southern Wesleyan Warriors
LOCATION: Central, SC
COACH: Camilo Rodriguez is entering his eighth season with the Warriors. He is a former player at the school.
2014 RECORD: 13-7 overall; 5-5 Conference Carolinas
THE CORNERSTONE: So. M Noel Fischer (6 goals, 3 assists — finished tied for second in goals scored last season).
THE SUPPORTING CAST: Jr. M Ivan Malagon (5 goals, 3 assists); Sr. F Joey Capone (2 goals, 3 assists); So. F Christian Taylor (3 goals, 1 assist); Sr GK Ruben Rodriguez (75 saves).
OUTLOOK: While the Warriors several of their top scoring threats, the cupboard is hardly bare. Fischer will anchor the attack, which should be balanced and feature a variety of playmakers. The defense will be strong as well with Rodriguez in goal. The Warriors have won 10 or more games in each of the last four seasons. The trend isn’t expected to change this year. The Warriors should come through with a winning season in league play as well.
LOCATION: Bristol, TN
COACH: John Miglarese is in his third season. He coached at NAIA John Brown University for four years prior to coming to King.
2014 RECORD: 7-10 overall; 5-5 Conference Carolinas
THE CORNERSTONE: Jr. M Chris Hicks (10 goals, 3 assists — earned all-region honors last season).
THE SUPPORTING CAST: Jr. F Eli Carrasco (4 goals, 6 assists); Jr. M Ryan Murphy (5 goals, 1 assist) So. M Faber Bickerstaffe (2 goals); Jr. GK Kari Sveinsson (32 saves).
OUTLOOK: With three primary scoring threats, King should elevate its offense to another level. Finding role players to step up as well is key. The Tornado has depth at goalie with Sveinsson and Cameron Sauro both back. Should be one of the most improved teams in the conference. A winning season is a realistic goal.
Erskine Flying Fleet
LOCATION: Due West, SC
COACH: Warren Turner has been with the Flying Fleet since the 2006 campaign. He was the Conference Carolinas Coach of the Year in 2010.
2014 RECORD: 8-8-2 overall; 4-4-2 Conference Carolinas
THE CORNERSTONE: Sr. M Joe O’Neill (4 goals, 4 assists — leading returning goal scorer).
THE SUPPORTING CAST: So. F Alex Waldthausen (2 goals, 4 assists); Sr. M Ross Henderson (2 goals, 3 assists); So. GK Fiore Costa (66 saves).
OUTLOOK: Erskine has a strong cast of offensive players back and should be in every game it plays because of it. Costa is poised for another big year in goal after allowing less than two per game last season. The Flying Fleet is looking to take a step forward and get back to the conference tournament. It could end up with a few more wins as well.
Mount Olive Trojans
LOCATION: Mount Olive, NC
COACH: Godfrey Miller has been the head coach of the Trojans since 2011. Spent three seasons as the head coach at Wake Technical Community College.
2014 RECORD: 5-11-3 overall; 3-6-1 Conference Carolinas
THE CORNERSTONE: Sr. M Kevin Williams Lopez (3 goals, 3 assists — earned all-conference honors last season).
THE SUPPORTING CAST: Jr. F Cooper Gaypia (3 goals, 1 assist); Sr. D/M Louis Gorman (2 goals, 3 assists); Jr. M Dauda Sanoh (1 goal, 2 assists); Sr. GK Nick Bensdorf (56 saves).
OUTLOOK: Williams Lopez should be able to elevate his game to another level and provide stellar senior leadership. The Trojans have a solid cast of older players and should have added confidence after winning two games against nationally ranked opponents last season. Mount Olive closed the year with two consecutive losses. It will take aim at a strong start in the hopes of turning things around this year. A fourth consecutive appearance in the conference tournament is certainly a goal within reach for the Trojans.
LOCATION: Belmont, NC
COACH: John Keating is going into his fifth season with the Crusaders. He is a native of South Africa and is a former director of coaching for the Omaha Nebraska Football Club.
2014 RECORD: 4-9-4 overall; 2-6-2 Conference Carolinas
THE CORNERSTONE: Jr. M Clay Dimick (6 goals — led team in goals and points).
THE SUPPORTING CAST: Sr. M Jordan Gardner (4 goals, 3 assists); Jr. M Nick Fuller (2 goals, 3 assists); Sr. D/M Declan McQuillan (3 goals, 3 assists); So. D/M Mohamed Balde (2 goals); So. GK Luke Whelan (37 saves).
OUTLOOK: Dimick headlines a cast of talented players who should help fuel a balanced attack. Talent won’t be in short supply in goal as the Crusaders will also be able to count on Mickey Raine and Alex Trujillo, who combined to play in 15 games. Belmont-Abbey is in a position to improve significantly. A .500 season would be a big step forward for the Crusaders.
LOCATION: Franklin Springs, Ga.
COACH: Scott Corchers has been the head coach of Lions since 2007. He is a former four-year starter at Piedmont College.
2014 RECORD: 5-11 overall; 2-8 Conference Carolinas
THE CORNERSTONE: So. M Martin Mitreski (5 goals, 2 assists — finished second on the team in points).
THE SUPPORTING CAST: So. F Cole Redman (4 goals, 1 assist); Shannon Crooks (1 goal, 2 assists); Ryan Brose (77 saves).
OUTLOOK: Mitreski was one of the best newcomers in the conference last season and a year of experience will allow him to be a bigger scoring threat this year and improve an offense that managed only 18 goals. Solid play from Brose in goal will be vital to the team’s success. Brose saw action in 16 games last year. Emmanuel closed the year on an eight-game losing streak. Building confidence early on will be key if the Lions are to be an improved team.
North Greenville Crusaders
LOCATION: Tigerville, SC
COACH: Chad Gfeller is heading into his 12th season with the Crusaders. He was the men’s and women’s head coach during his first four years at the school.
2014 RECORD: 0-15 overall; 0-10 Conference Carolinas
THE CORNERSTONE: Jr. F Joel Johnson (2 goals, 1 assist — leading returning scorer for the Crusaders).
THE SUPPORTING CAST: Jr. M Jonny Lind (1 goal, 1 assist); Sr. M Asa Wolfe (1 goal, 1 assist); So. GK Zaac Romano (16 saves).
OUTLOOK: North Greenville only scored eight goals while allowing 51. Improvement won’t be easy. Joel Johnson is the only player back who scored more than a goal. He needs a big year and plenty of help from others if the offense is going to be more effective. After back-to-back winless seasons, the Crusaders only have one way to go. It will be a surprise if this team doesn’t win at least a couple of games.