CONWAY — The Coastal Carolina men’s soccer team has been dealing with injuries to its top two players, but that hasn’t slowed the Chanticleers down one bit over the last couple weeks.
The Chants picked up their fourth straight win on Tuesday night as they rolled past College of Charleston, 3-1, and they are now unbeaten since suffering their lone loss back on August 27 to Charlotte.
All the while, they’ve moved to 7-1-2 overall and to No. 16 (Soccer America), No. 17 (NSCAA) and No. 20 (College Soccer News) in the national rankings.
“I’m really pleased with the last four or five games,” CCU coach Shaun Docking said. “We’ve started to turn the corner a little bit and have been playing more unified and more coordinated.”
Senior star Ashton Bennett – the NCAA’s leading scorer last year – has been slowed by a groin injury, and although he’s continued to play, Docking is trying to be smart about his minutes. He has four goals and three assists through 10 games after scoring 23 goals in 22 games last season.
“He’s not able to play a full 90 minutes yet, so we’re kind of trying to play him in spurts and make sure that he doesn’t make it worse,” Docking said.
Junior midfielder Pedro Ribeiro, meanwhile, missed four games due to an ankle injury before returning last weekend and is continuing to work his way back into form.
But all the things considered, the Chants – who host Presbyterian on Saturday afternoon at 3:30 – have looked just fine despite their physical setbacks.
“I’m really pleased because we’ve come through the out-of-conference schedule the last four to five games kind of finding our stride a little bit more now,” Docking said. “That’s been really pleasing, so now we turn our attention to the conference.”
Volleyball opens to big crowd
While Coastal is hoping to fill The HTC Center when the men’s basketball team makes its debut in the new arena in November, the Chants’ volleyball team drew a pretty impressive crowd in its own right for the team’s home opener last Friday.
The Chants lost 3-2 to Winthrop before coming back to win 3-2 the next day over Presbyterian, but nonetheless, the athletic department announced a crowd of 1,042 for the first home competition in the new venue.
“It was really exciting because more than 1,000 people came to our game and I think they realized ... we fight every single time and we want to win,” first-year head coach Jozsef Forman said.
The Chants are off to a 3-8 start and have already lost two starters to serious injuries, Forman said, but he reiterated that it’s just the start of a process. Forman comes to Coastal after most recently serving as the associate head coach at Auburn.
“First of all, first year is always the transition,” he said. “... Step by step, this team can be very strong in the future, like my former teams.”
The team goes on the road for its next three matches, at High Point on Friday, Campbell on Saturday and College of Charleston next Tuesday.
Men’s golf ranked
The Coastal men’s golf team is ranked No. 24 nationally by Golfstat after a strong showing this week at the Windon Memorial Classic hosted by Northwestern.
The Chanticleers finished third out of 15 teams at the 54-hole tournament in Skokie, Ill., carding a collective 32-over par to end up three strokes back of champion Ohio State.
Individually, sophomore Ben Wheeler was second overall, one stroke off the lead with an even-par 213, and senior Sebastian Soderberg tied for fifth at 5-over.
On the schedule
Other Coastal teams in action this week include the men’s and women’s cross country squads competing at the Charlotte Invitational on Friday and the women’s soccer team hosting Liberty on Thursday night and Longwood on Saturday.
Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318.