AUGUSTA, GA -- The Francis Marion University men’s soccer team has been picked to finish fifth according to the 2005 Peach Belt Conference preseason coaches’ poll, released Friday (Aug. 18), while Clayton State University was installed as the preseason favorite.
Clayton State received four of a possible six first-place votes for 33 points, finishing four points ahead of second-place USC Upstate. UNC Pembroke was tabbed to finish third, followed by Lander University, FMU, USC Aiken, and newcomer North Georgia College & State University.
NGCSU will play a compete conference schedule and play in the PBC Tournament, although the Saints will not be eligible for the NCAA tournament while they continue the transition to the Division II level.
FMU returns 10 lettermen, including six starters, from last season’s 8-10-1 squad that finished sixth in the Peach Belt. Head coach Murray Hartzler welcomes in 13 newcomers, 12 of whom are freshmen. Senior All-Region back Mike Greenaway leads the returnees, while goalkeeper Jonathan Runion, a three-year starter, also returns.
The Patriots open their 2005 season Friday (Aug. 26) at the Lees-McRae College Soccer Classic, when they take on the home-standing Bobcats at 7:30 p.m.
Clayton State is coming off a 12-4-4 record last season that saw them advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Lakers are ranked 14th in the adidas/NSCAA preseason Top 25 poll. Interestingly, UNCP is ranked fourth in the preseason national poll. The Braves captured both the 2004 PBC regular-season and tournament titles and advanced to the national semifinals.
Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own teams.
2005 Peach Belt Conference Preseason Coaches’ Men’s Soccer Poll
School (1st-place vote) Total
1. Clayton State (4) 33
2. USC Upstate 29
3. UNC Pembroke (2) 28
4. Lander (1) 24
5. Francis Marion 14
6. USC Aiken 10
7. North Georgia 9