High Point, NC- The Lees-McRae College Bobcat’s men’s soccer team starts the season atop the preseason coaches’ poll and ranked 13th in the NCAA and looks to three-peat as Conference Carolinas Regular Season and Tournament Champions in 2009. The Bobcats return an experienced core from a season ago that went 17-3-3 overall, 9-0-1 in conference play, won the conference regular season and tournament championships and earned a bid into the NCAA Tournament before falling in the Sweet Sixteen.

The Bobcat squad returns two-time All-American and Conference Carolinas Player of the Year Lee Squires, who was third in the NCAA in goals per game last year.  The Bobcats also return First Team All-Conference defender Dale Parker, Second Team All-Conference forward David Palmer, Second Team All-Conference goalkeeper Sean Paradise and Third Team All-Conference defender and Conference Carolinas Tournament Most Valuable Player Luke Duffy.  Parker and Paradise also earned All-Southeast Region honors for their efforts in the 2008 season. Former All-American Berin Boracic, returns after missing the entire ‘08 season with an injury.

“I am proud of the No. 1 preseason ranking,” head coach Chris Whalley said.  “But we realize it’s where you are ranked in November that matters.  We feel we have put together a good squad for the 2009 season, but we understand there is a lot of improvement and hard work ahead of us if we want to achieve our goals for the season.”

Limestone College is looking forward to 2009 after a great 2008 season that saw the Saints finish with a 16-3-2 overall record and a third-place finish in the Conference Carolinas regular season standings with a 7-2-1 league record. Limestone, currently ranked No. 23 in the NSCAA Division II preseason poll, was nationally ranked throughout the 2008 season and climbed as high as No. 13 in the NSCAA/adidas poll. The Saints also received their second NCAA tournament berth in school history last year.

Limestone has 17 players returning, including All-American defender Dominic Casciato, forward and All-Region honoree Ali Benson, all-conference defender James Burke, and all-conference midfielder Keegan Ziada. Nine newcomers have also joined the Saints’ lineup. Limestone’s key newcomers include midfielder Liam Garner, midfielder Scott Wells, and forward Junior Ellis.

After advancing to the conference tournament championship for the first time in school history last season, the Anderson University men’s soccer team has been picked to finish third in a vote by Conference Carolinas head coaches. Head Coach Rob Miller, who earned Conference Coach of the Year accolades in 2008, guided the Trojans to their highest conference finish in school history as AU boasted a mid-season nine-match unbeaten streak to claim the second spot in the regular season before advancing all the way to the league championship match where defending champion Lees-McRae edged Anderson in a shootout. 

Anderson wrapped up last season with a sparkling 12-5-3 overall and 7-1-2 league record. The Trojans will be looking to replace a pair of first-team all-conference performers from last year, but have a good start returning 14 letter winners, including six starters.

Belmont Abbey finished fourth in the poll with Queens fifth followed by Pfeiffer, Mount Olive, Erskine, Coker, St. Andrews, and Barton respectively rounding-out the poll standings.

Conference Carolinas Men’s Soccer Preseason Poll (# of First Place Votes in Parenthesis)

1.   Lees-McRae                                                                      (9)                           99

2.   Limestone                                                                          (2)                           87

3.   Anderson                                                                                                          83

4.   Belmont Abbey                                                                                                 67

5.   Queens                                                                                                              66

6.   Pfeiffer                                                                                                              60

7.   Mount Olive                                                                                                     45

8.   Erskine                                                                                                              32

9.   Coker                                                                                                                27

10. St. Andrews                                                                                                      25

11. Barton                                                                                                               14