Big South Places Two in NCAA Men's Soccer Tourney


CHARLOTTE, N.C. ( For the third time in Big South History, the Big South Conference placed two squads in the NCAA Men's Soccer Tournament.  Liberty claimed the League's automatic bid with its run through the Big South Men's Soccer Championship, while Coastal Carolina earned an at-large bid to the championship.  The Flames will travel to Norfolk, Va. to take on Old Dominion, with the Chanticleers hosting Elon.  Both matches will played on Thursday, Nov. 17.  Full stories appear below...

Big South Champion Liberty Draws Old Dominion for NCAA Championship
Lynchburg, Va. - The 2011 Big South Champion Liberty Flames will square off against the Old Dominion Monarchs in the opening round of the NCAA Men's Soccer Championship, the NCAA selection committee announced earlier this afternoon.

The Flames, who enter the championship with an 11-6-2 mark, will travel to Norfolk, Va., Thursday to face the Monarchs, 12-5-1, at the ODU Soccer Complex.  A time for the match has yet to be determined. The winner of the contest will face the tournament's No. 16 seed, the Indiana Hoosiers, Sunday at Armstrong Stadium in Bloomington, Ind.

Liberty earned the Big South's automatic bid with a 3-1 victory over Gardner-Webb in the conference championship game, yesterday at Greene-Harbison Stadium in Boiling Springs, N.C. The Flames will enter the NCAA Tournament unbeaten in five straight (4-0-1) contests. During their run to the Big South title, Liberty halted a 13-game winning streak by No. 9 ranked Coastal Carolina, who also made the NCAA field.

It will be the second trip to the NCAA Men's Soccer Championship for the Flames. In 2007, Liberty captured its first Big South title, earning a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

The Flames have posted a double-digit win total for the fifth consecutive season, outscoring their opponents, 38-19, on the year. Liberty posted a Big South-high eight shutouts on the seasons.

Old Dominion, ranked 18th in the country, earned an at-large berth to the tournament. The Monarchs fell to Delaware in the Colonial Athletic Association Championship game, 2-1, yesterday.  Old Dominion will enter the contest unbeaten at home (7-0-1) this season.

The contest will be the first meeting between the two squads in soccer since 2001 and is one of 16 first round matches to be played on Thursday. The 2011 NCAA Men's Soccer Championship will culminate with the College Cup, December 9 and 11, at Regions Stadium in Hoover, Ala.

Coastal Carolina Hosts Opening Round of NCAA Tournament
CONWAY - The Coastal Carolina men's soccer team and members of the media gathered at Adkins Field House Monday afternoon to learn with the rest of the nation its first round opponent to the NCAA Championships by watching the webcast. The verdict was the Elon Phoenix with the match being played Thursday, Nov. 17, at 7:00 p.m. on Coastal Carolina's campus.

Tickets for the NCAA First Round are available by calling the CCU Athletics Ticket Office at 1-877-4-CHANTS or by clicking here. Ticket prices are set for $7 for adults and $5 for youth (High School age and below) and students with a valid ID. All tickets are general admission, bleachers are first come, first serve.

Coastal Carolina and Elon have met once this season with the Chants claiming a 2-1 victory over the Southern Conference tournament champion Phoenix. The winner will go on to play on Sunday, Nov. 20, at North Carolina, which is the tournament's top seed. Coastal also faced the Tar Heels this season, losing 2-0 to UNC in an exhibition match at the CCU Soccer Field to start the 2011 season.

The Chanticleers, who had 17 wins this season, earned a berth to the 2011 NCAA Championship by winning its 10th Big South regular season title since 1986. This will make Coastal's ninth NCAA berth and the seventh under head coach Shaun Docking, who led the Chants to the NCAA postseason in 2001, '02, '03, '04, '05 and '10. It will mark the second time Coastal has hosted an NCAA Men's Soccer Championship match, joining the 2003 team that went on to reach the NCAA Sweet 16.

Coastal Carolina swept the Big South all-conference awards and had a total of seven make the all-conference team. Docking was named Big South Coach of the Year, Ashton Bennett received Attacking Player of the Year, the Defensive Player of the Year went to Cyprian Hedrick and Kjartan Sigurdsson as named Freshman of the Year. Joining Bennett, Hedrick and Sigurdsson on the first team were Pedro Ribeiro, Luis Faz, Justin Portillo and Scott Angevine. In addition to Sigurdsson, Ricky Garbanzo and Henrik Robstad were named to the All-Freshman team.

This marked the sixth time in his 16 years of coaching in the Big South that Docking has won the Coach of the Year award. Docking became the all-time wins leader at Coastal Carolina with 172 total wins. With a 9-0-0 Big South record, Docking improved to 73-21-7 (.757) during his 14 years as the Chanticleers head coach.

The Chanticleers, who finished the regular season leading the NCAA in scoring, were paced this season by National Player of the Year candidate Bennett. Bennett finished the regular season as a top four NCAA statistical categories including: goals (21), goals per game (1.17), total points (48) and points per game (2.67). Bennett has posted seven multi-goal games during the 2011 campaign, including hat tricks against Richmond and Liberty. He was named the National Player of the Week Oct. 24 in addition to being named to its National Team of the Week on three occasions. He was also named to the College Soccer News National Team of the Week twice this season. Bennett has notched eight game-winning goals on the year and was named the MVP of the Virginia Commonwealth and Coastal Carolina Tournaments. He has also won Big South Attacking Player of the Week honors three times this season.