The Lees-McRae College men's soccer team is picked to finish third in the race for the 2012 Conference Carolinas regular season title after advancing to
the NCAA Tournament for the fifth straight year last fall, announced league officials with the release of the 2012 Conference Carolinas Men's Soccer Coaches Preseason Poll.
"I think we have a point to prove to people this year," said Bobcat head coach Lee Squires. "We want to get back to being top of the conference and region at the end of the season, and we are working very hard to achieve this. It's a tough league, and there are no easy games, so we have to be prepared for each and every game."
Defending regular season and tournament champion Coker College is tabbed to repeat its 2011 performance this fall, receiving nine first-place votes and 99 points while returning 11 veterans from last season's 18-3 squad. Limestone College, which led the nation in scoring offense last season, is picked to finish second with 90 points and two first-place votes.
Lees-McRae is third with 79 votes, followed by Erskine College and Barton College in a tie for fourth with 58 points. Queens University of Charlotte is sixth with 56 points, followed by King College (44), North Greenville University (39), Belmont Abbey College (34), and Mount Olive College (27), and Pfeiffer University (21).
The Bobcats are primed to take a big leap in Squires' second year at the helm, returning 12 lettermen from the 2011 squad, which finished runner-up in the race for both the conference regular season and tournament titles en route to the program's fifth straight NCAA Tournament appearance. The Bobcats return a veteran corps led by senior John Williams (Rutherfordton, N.C.), and juniors Thomas Rusling (Sheffield, England) and James Galvani (High Wycombe, England).
Coach Squires and the Bobcats posted a sterling 15-6-1 record last season, including a 9-2 mark in league play, as Galvani and Smith combined for 17 goals, 14 assists, and 46 points to lead the LMC attack. Rusling will be called up to anchor the Bobcat defense once again, carrying a career goals against average of 1.07 into the season, which ranks third all-time in program history.
Lees-McRae is slated to open the season on Friday, August 31 when the Bobcats host No. 2 and reigning national runner-up Lynn University at 3:30 p.m. on Tate Field.
2012 Conference Carolinas Men's Soccer Coaches Preseason Poll
Rk.School (1st Place Votes) Points
1. Coker College (9) 99
2. Limestone College (2) 90
3. Lees-McRae College 79
T-4. Erskine College 58
T-4. Barton College 58
6. Queens University of Charlotte 56
7. King College 44
8. North Greenville University 39
9. Belmont Abbey College 34
10. Mount Olive College 27
11. Pfeiffer University 21
Photo Courtesy: Lee Squires, LMC Athletics