On Saturday, the Francis Marion men’s and women’s soccer teams will play host to Lander University on Florence Youth Soccer Association/Patriot Soccer Camp Day. The PBC doubleheader will begin with the women’s match at 1 p.m., followed by the men’s match at 3:30 p.m. Admission to the matches is free, and a free youth soccer clinic will follow the men’s match. All FYSA players or teams and those FMU summer soccer camp participants interested in attending the clinic should call the FMU athletic office at 843-661-1240 so organizers can have a headcount. The Patriot soccer programs regularly schedule four camps during the summer in Florence and surrounding Pee Dee area towns.
The Patriot women are 8-6-0 overall and 2-3-0 in the PBC, while Lander is 7-6-1 and 2-3-0. Both squads are among three teams tied for fourth place in the conference standings. Francis Marion leads the young series 5-0-0 and has outscored the Bearcats 25-1. Sophomore Katie Riley has taken over the team scoring lead with nine goals and four assists, while two-time All-American Katie Roberts has eight goals and five assists.
The Patriot men are 9-6-0 overall and 1-3-0 in the Peach Belt, while Lander is 9-3-1 and 2-2-0. Lander leads the longtime series 23-8-2, but Francis Marion has won five of the past eight meetings. Each of the past seven meetings has been decided by one goal. The Patriots will attempt to give head coach Murray Hartzler his 200th career coaching win. In 20 seasons, 10 each at Francis Marion and Hiram College (Ohio), Hartzler has amassed a 199-130-31 record. He is the winningest coach in FMU history with a 113-69-10 mark. Senior forward Ben Chavolla (13 goals, 3 assists) and junior forward Peter Nsubuga (9 goals, 5 assists) lead the Patriots in scoring.
The FMU men’s and women’s cross country teams will compete in the 12th Peach Belt Conference Championship Meet, Saturday in Atlanta. The championships will be held on the Georgia State University Panthersville course at Georgia Regional Hospital. The women’s 5,000-meter race will begin at 9 a.m., followed by the men’s 8,000-meter race at 9:45 a.m. No FMU cross country team has ever won the PBC team title. The Patriot men will be led by All-Conference candidates Ryan Plexico and Ezekiel Koech, while the women are led by sophomore Nicole Hoeppner and freshmen Megan Coy and Erica Woo. Earlier this year, Hoeppner recorded the fast time (19:10) in the program’s history.
The Patriot men’s and women’s basketball teams will hold a Tip-Off Jamboree, Saturday in the Smith University Center. The event will be held from 2 to 3 p.m. and will give fans a chance to meet the 2003-04 men’s and women’s squads. Games and prizes will also be part of the afternoon’s festivities.
The Francis Marion University women’s volleyball team will return to the Aiken area for a second straight weekend, as the Patriots play a pair of Peach Belt Conference road matches. FMU (8-19 overall record, 1-6 PBC) will play at USC Aiken (11-15, 3-4) on Friday at 7 p.m. and at Augusta State University (11-12, 3-5) on Saturday at 3 p.m. Led by senior Kim Covil (2.32 kills and 2.82 digs per game) and freshman Lezlie Logan (2.90 kills and 0.94 blocks per game), the Patriots will attempt to snap a seven-match road losing streak. Fifteen of the team’s 27 matches this season have been decided in three games, and the Patriots remain unbeaten (7-0) when winning the first game of a match.
PEACH BELT CONFERENCE
The Peach Belt Conference, in only its 13th year of existence, has produced 18 NCAA Division II national champions and 16 national runners-up. Currently, at least one PBC member school is ranked in the top 5 of each of the men’s soccer, women’s soccer, women’s volleyball, and golf national polls.