The Mountain Lions were dominating last year as well, winning their first-ever Peach Belt title after an undefeated conference campaign and finishing the season 16-2, garnering some high national rankings. But playing in its provisional year after jumping from the junior college ranks, Young Harris wasn’t eligible for last season’s NCAA tournament.
Young Harris (10-0-1, 5-0) is currently atop the Peach Belt standings, three points ahead of BR-113 South Carolina-Aiken (10-2-1, 4-1), a team Young Harris beat 5-0 earlier in the season.
In the win over BR-172 Georgia Southwestern, the Mountain Lions got two goals in 13 seconds from Kendall Carballo, and also benefitted from Ilija Ilic’s team-leading 10th goal of the season.
Ilic is just outside the national Top Ten list for goal scorers, but is tied with two other players atop the national leader board in assists with 10, after getting one of those in the Georgia Southwestern game too.
In the game before Saturday’s win over Georgia Southwestern, the Mountain Lions turned in a 3-1 win over last year’s DII national runners-up, non-conference foe BR-15 Carson-Newman (BR 15, 5-6-2).
The only stain so far on the Young Harris result sheet is a season-opening scoreless draw with BR-62 Nova Southeastern of the Sunshine State Conference.
For 10th-year Young Harris head coach Mark McKeever, recognition as Peach Belt Coach of the Year last year and top national rankings in a couple of polls at end of last season is short of the team’s goal – which is to be crowned national champions – maybe even in the team’s first year of eligibility.
Winning a national title is the big goal I have and we certainly have the team to go the distance providing we get the rub of the green
“Winning a national title is the big goal I have and we certainly have the team to go the distance providing we get the rub of the green,” McKeever, a Scot who came from Motherwell to the United States to play college soccer in 1997, told the Scottish newspaper the Daily Record and Sunday Mail, before this season. “It is still a burning desire of mine to be the best.”
Young Harris starts its homestretch run of four games on Wednesday at home against BR-40 Lander, before three straight road games, at BR-74 UNC-Pembroke, BR-41 Clayton State and BR-30 Montevallo. The Peach Belt’s top eight teams begin conference tournament play Nov. 4.