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Men’s soccer conference preview

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  • Rankings

    David Scott’s Carolinas top 10

    Wake Forest (10-6-5 last season)

    Coastal Carolina (19-5)

    North Carolina (9-6-5)

    Charlotte (12-6-3)

    Lander, S.C. (12-6-1)

    Clemson (11-7-3)

    Queens (16-4)

    Elon (15-4-3)

    Furman (11-5-2)

    Limestone, S.C. (15-4)

    Note: Rankings based on teams’ strengths in respective NCAA divisions.

    Soccer America preseason top 25

    1. UCLA (12-3-5 last season)

    2. Notre Dame (17-1-6)

    3. Virginia (13-6-5)

    4. Washington (16-2-4)

    5. Maryland (17-4-5)

    6. Georgetown (14-5-2)

    7. Connecticut (13-3-7)

    8. New Mexico (14-6-2)

    9. Louisville (11-5-4)

    10. North Carolina (9-6-5)

    11. Marquette (13-6-2)

    12. Michigan State (14-6-3)

    13. Stanford (10-7-3)

    14. California (14-5-2)

    15. Penn State (13-6-2)

    16. Wake Forest (10-6-5)

    17. Coastal Carolina (19-5-0)

    18. UC Santa Barbara (12-6-3)

    19. Clemson (11-7-3)

    20. UC Irvine (15-5-3)

    21. UMBC (16-1-3)

    22. Charlotte (12-6-3)

    23. Akron (17-4-1)

    24. Creighton (9-9-2)

    25. Cal State Northridge (15-7-1)



ACC

Favorite: Notre Dame

Player to watch: North Carolina’s Boyd Okwuonu, a senior defender, anchored a Tar Heels defense that allowed .61 goals per game last season.

Game to watch: Notre Dame at Duke (Oct. 17) – last season’s defending champion and preseason No. 1 makes its only regular-season appearance in the Carolinas (ACC tournament is in Cary, though).

Atlantic 10

Favorite: Virginia Commonwealth

Player to watch: Saint Louis’ Robert Kristo (10 goals, five assists in 2013) has led the Billikens in scoring for three consecutive seasons.

Game to watch: Saint Louis at Davidson (Oct. 10) – Wildcats’ Atlantic 10 home opener is against one of college soccer’s traditional powers.

Big South

Favorite: Coastal Carolina

Player to watch: Coastal Carolina’s Ricky Garbanzo (13 goals) led the Big South in scoring last season and is on the Hermann Award watch list.

Game to watch: Winthrop at Coastal Carolina (Oct. 29) – Garbanzo, who played at Rock Hill Northwestern, faces his hometown team.

Conference Carolinas

Favorite: Limestone

Player to watch: Limestone midfielder Sam Orritt (eight goals, nine assists) is coming off an All-American season.

Game to watch: Pfeiffer at Belmont Abbey (Oct. 31) – these long-time Conference Carolinas rivals conclude the regular season on the Crusaders’ senior day.

Conference USA

Favorite: New Mexico

Player to watch: Behind center back Mahamoudou Kaba, South Carolina had six shutouts. Kaba also tied for the team lead with five goals.

Game to watch: New Mexico at Charlotte (Sept. 16) – quite a way to open conference play with this game between teams that were one-two in C-USA’s preseason poll.

South Atlantic

Favorite: Carson-Newman

Player to watch: Queens goalkeeper Montrell Morgan had a .78 goals-against average last season, which ranked 22nd nationally.

Game to watch: Carson-Newman at Queens (Oct. 25) – Royals (ranked 22nd nationally in coaches poll) face No. 2 Carson-Newman.

Southern

Favorite: Furman

Player to watch: Wofford striker Connor Davis is on the Hermann Award watch list. He finished in the top 25 last season in points (27) and goals (11).

Game to watch: Furman at Wofford (Oct. 1) – two Upstate rivals might be playing for league’s regular-season title.

Others

Most of the Sun Belt’s full-time members don’t sponsor the sport, so men’s soccer schools Appalachian State, Georgia State and Georgia Southern are joined by affiliate members Hartwick, Howard and New Jersey Institute of Technology in a six-team Sun Belt league ... Elon (15-5-3 in 2013) should contend in its first season in the Colonial Athletic Association. David Scott

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