CONWAY — For all the talent and offensive firepower the Coastal Carolina men’s soccer team returned this season, there was a glaring uncertainty between the posts for the Chanticleers.
But no longer.
Sophomore Federico Bertele, a transfer from North Florida, has a 0.64 goals-against average and .818 save percentage through three games while junior newcomer Scott Shewfelt made his first start Sunday and notched four saves for a 1-0 double-overtime shutout over Wright State, earning Big South Defensive Player of the Week honors.
“We had question marks to start the year,” Chants coach Shaun Docking said. “[But] I think we’re feeling pretty good about that spot right now.”
The offensive end is actually where the Chants have been lagging behind a bit so far. Off to a 2-1-1 start, they’ve played three straight double-overtime games while scoring two goals in that span.
Senior forward Ashton Bennett, the NCAA’s leading scorer last season, delivered the golden goal in that win over Wright State, and Docking feels it’s only a matter of time before the Chants return to their high-scoring ways.
“I think we’re playing well. We’ve played some of the best teams in the country so far, and I think we’re matching up well with their guys,” he said. “We’re keeping the ball a lot and we’re creating a ton of chances, so we’re just young, we’re still evolving and we’ve just got to find our rhythm a little bit better. And I think once we do that, we’ll be fine.”
The Chants dropped from No. 10 to No. 19 in the latest College Soccer News poll and from No. 16 to No. 19 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America rankings. They host a four-team tournament on campus this weekend while playing Florida Atlantic on Friday night and Bowling Green on Saturday.
Growing pains for CCU women
The Coastal women’s soccer team, meanwhile, has been unpredictable while alternating wins and losses on the way to a 2-3 start.
The Chants are in their second season under head coach Paul Hogan and relying heavily on its latest recruiting class as Hogan looks to assimilate a new influx of talent into the program.
“When you have basically half a new team, you can have ups and downs – and we have lots of freshmen playing,” Hogan said. “So we’ve not been consistent in our effort and our execution. That’s the two biggest things we talk about with our kids.”
Freshman midfielder Fia Jonsson has been the squad’s most impressive newcomer while tying for the team lead so far with four points (one goal and two assists). Senior Anna Lowe leads the Chants with two goals, and Hogan said he has been impressed with the improvement of sophomore midfielders Kacey Kelley and Rylie Johnson.
The CCU women have two more games to smooth things out before the start of conference play.
“For this group, every game is a big game,” Hogan said.
The Coastal men’s golf team opens its fall schedule Sunday and Monday in Colorado Springs, Colo., while the Chants’ volleyball and cross country teams are off this weekend.
Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318.