ROCK HILL, SC— Looking to end a three-game losing streak, the Winthrop men’s soccer team welcomes sixth-ranked Coastal Carolina to Eagle Field Wednesday evening for a Big South Conference matchup. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.
Winthrop has dropped three straight games after opening the season 7-0-1 and during the three losses has yielded seven goals. Winthrop allowed just six goals over the first eight games and didn’t allow but one opponent more than one goal in a game.
This matchup features one of the best rivalries in the Big South Conference as the two teams have met 17 times since 2002, four of which have come in the Big South Championship match. Coastal Carolina emerged as the top program in the league in the early 2000′s and has only gotten stronger as the current team holds the highest ranking in school and league history at sixth. In the last three meetings with the Chanticleers, they’ve been ranked 8th, 10th and 13th in the nation. Of all the current schools in the Big South, Winthrop has the most victories over Coastal Carolina dating back to the 2002 season. Three of the wins have come in the conference title game while the other two came during the regular season.
Winthrop won the last meeting between the two schools but has lost three of the last four and been shutout in two of them. Coastal Carolina leads the all-time series 25-17-3 overall and 19-7-2 in regular season conference matchups.
Defensively the Eagles have taken a hit with injuries, but the offense hasn’t picked up the slack despite have several good scoring opportunities over the three games. The offense scored four goals on 48 shot attempts in the three losses.
Freshman Max Hasenstab continues to lead the team in scoring with seven goals and five assists as he ranks 11th nationally in points per game (1.73). He is second in the Big South in total points and assists and third in total goals. Senior Achille Obougou returned to the lineup at Liberty over the weekend and created several scoring chances and nearly gave Winthrop its first goal of the game in the 54th minute if it wasn’t for a great save by Liberty’s Jeremy Lee. He’s second on the team in scoring with four goals and two assists. While it was nice to get Obougou back, the Eagles will still be missing some key players including Mason Lavallet as he received two yellow cards on Saturday and will sit. Winthrop is already shorthanded at the outside midfield position with Patrick Barnes missing the last two games and not expected back.
Junior Pol Sole returned to action last week after missing time since the 18th minute of the season opener when he left with an injury. Sole was expected to make a big impact for the Eagles this season and on Saturday he netted his first goal of the season as he tied the match in the 86th minute at Liberty. Sole played a season-high 55 minutes.
In goal, junior Guilherme Avelar has continued to be strong but has yielded seven goals the last three games but two coming on penalties.
The team has allowed two goals in the first half in the past two games with the second goal of each game coming in the final minute of the first half. Both times the Eagles gave the ball away without any pressure, leading to the late goals.
The Chanticleers enter the game riding one of the longest win streaks in the nation at eight and are coming off back-to-back shutout victories over VMI and College of Charleston. Coastal is a perfect 4-0 in the Big South and currently two points ahead of Longwood in first place.
Offensively Coastal ranks 19th in the country at 2.0 goals per game and are led by senior Pedro Ribeiro, who was named to the preseason Hermann Trophy Watch List. He’s also the Big South Preseason Attacking Player of the Year and a College Soccer News Preseason All-American. He leads the team with six goals and also has two assists.
Freshman Sergio Camargo is second on the team in scoring at five goals and four assists as three of his five goals are game-winners. Junior Ricky Garbanzo, a Rock Hill native, is third on the team in scoring with five goals and an assists and three of his five goals are also game-winners. Coastal has scored two or more goals in three straight games and twice this season has scored four (at #15 UNC Greensboro and at Presbyterian College).
Coastal hasn’t given up too many goals this season and ranks 10th nationally with six shutouts as sophomore goalkeeper Devin Cook and the backline for the Chanticleers have been solid. Cook holds a goals against average of 0.84 in 11 games played and is 8-2 on the year.
This will be the eighth time that Winthrop has faced a Coastal Carolina squad ranked nationally. The Eagles are 3-4 in the previous seven meetings against a Top 25 Coastal Carolina team. Since 2002, Winthrop is 3-11 vs. Top 25 programs and 2-7 against team’s ranked in the Top 10 but six of the seven losses have been by just one goal.