HARTSVILLE, S.C. – The National Soccer Coaches Association of America and Continental Tire recently announced the NCAA Division II Men's Preseason Rankings, and the Coker College Cobras come in at No. 18.
"This is the first year in the history of the program that we have been ranked nationally in preseason, and it is a testament to the effort of the players," Coker head coach Paul Leese said. "I am proud of what we have achieved in such a short period of time, but it is vital that we do not ease off and think we have reached a set goal.
"There are many deserving teams in the top 25 and it will take a tremendous effort to still be there by the end of the season. That's our challenge this year, and I know that we will have the support of everyone at Coker as well as the Hartsville community."
Coker had a historic season in 2011, reaching the Division II regional tournament. The team lost in the second round, 2-1, to Mars Hill College. The Cobras finished the regular season ranked No. 5 in the nation, won the Conference Carolinas regular season and tournament titles, and ended with a record of 18-3.
The success of the season led to a laundry list of postseason awards. Seven Cobras received all-conference honors. Juniors Carlos Recinos, Rommel Fondin and James Sweeney, along with sophomore Atticus Lum and freshman Fernando Bedoya, were named first team all-conference. Sophomore Stephen Scrivens was a second team all-conference selection and Recinos was named conference player of the year and head coach Paul Leese was named coach of the year.
Juniors Alan Cuevas and Noah Lascell, along with sophomores Niko Tirkkonen, Tyler Staub and Brendan McCarron, were named to the Conference Carolinas All-Tournament Team, with Lascell taking home tournament MVP honors.
In addition, Recinos, Bedoya and Sweeney were named to the Daktronics All-Southeast Region first team. Recinos, Bedoya, Sweeney, along with Fondin and Lum, were named to the NSCAA All-Southeast Region first team. Bedoya was also selected as an NSCAA/Continental Tire Third Team All-American.
In addition to their on the field accolades, these athletes were scholars in the classroom. Sweeney, Staub, Lascell and David Pent were academic all-conference selections. Sweeney and Staub were also named to the Capital One Academic All-District Team, and Sweeney was named to the Capital One Academic All-American First Team and was named the Conference Carolinas men's soccer scholar athlete of the year.
The NSCAA/Continental Tire College Rankings are an indicator of week-to-week status of qualified programs. The first regular-season poll will be released Sept. 4. For more information about the NSCAA College Rankings, visit www.nscaa.com/rankings/college.
Based in Kansas City, Kan., the National Soccer Coaches Associatoin of America is the largest soccer coaches' organization in the world.
Since its founding in 1941, the NSCAA has grown to include more than 30,000 members who coach both genders at all levels of the sport. In addition to a national rankings program for colleges and high schools, NSCAA offers an extensive recognition program that presents nearly 10,000 individual awards every year. The NSCAA fulfills its mission of coaching education through a nationwide program of clinics and week-long courses, teaching more than 7,000 soccer coaches each year.
Coker College readies undergraduates for personal and professional success through a distinctive four-year program that emphasizes a practical application of the liberal arts as well as hands-on and discussion-based learning within and beyond the classroom. Coker is ranked among the "Best Colleges" in the South by U.S. News & World Report as well as The Princeton Review. Located in Hartsville, S.C., Coker is within two hours of the cultural, financial and recreational resources of Charlotte, Columbia, Charleston and Myrtle Beach.