AUGUSTA, GA – Francis Marion University has been tabbed to finish fifth in the race for the 2010 Peach Belt Conference men’s soccer crown, according to a pre-season vote by the league’s head coaches. PBC coaches were not permitted to vote for their own teams.
Flagler College was installed as the pre-season favorite. The Saints claimed seven of a possible eight first-place votes for 62 total points, finishing ahead of Lander University (53), Clayton State University (48) and the University of Montevallo (48), Francis Marion (37), UNC Pembroke (31), USC Aiken (19), North Georgia College & State University (18), and Georgia Southwestern State University (8).
Flagler won the 2009 regular-season title, while Lander is the defending tournament champion. FMU won both the regular-season and tournament championships in 2008.
Fourth-year Francis Marion head Kevin Varnado welcomes back 10 lettermen, including seven starters, from last year’s 11-5-3 squad that placed fifth in the final PBC regular-season standings and lost a tight overtime decision in the quarterfinal round of the conference tournament.
The Patriots’ 2010 roster also includes 12 newcomers: two NCAA Division I transfers, one junior college transfer, one red-shirt freshman, and eight true freshmen.
The 2010 men’s soccer season begins on Sept. 2 with the Patriots hosting local-rival Coker College at 5 p.m. Conference play begins on Sept. 11, although the Patriots don’t meet a PBC opponent until Sept. 18, and continues through to the PBC Tournament in early November. The tournament semifinals and finals, Nov. 5-7, will be played at Blanchard Woods Park in Evans, Ga., as part of the first-ever PBC Fall Festival. The festival will unite the men’s and women’s soccer championships and the men’s and women’s cross country championships at the same facility on the same weekend.