Oct. 23, 2012
CONWAY - Uchenna Uzo, a standout on the ninth-ranked Coastal Carolina men's soccer team, has been named the Big South Men's Soccer Defensive Player of the Week for games played Oct. 15-21, the league announced on Tuesday.
Uzo, a sophomore from Lagos, Nigeria, anchored a Chanticleer backline that posted back-to-back shutouts against Winthrop and Gardner-Webb last week. His play helped the CCU defense hold Winthrop to only one shot on goal, while the Runnin' Bulldogs were only able to get six shots on frame. The No. 9 Coastal Carolina squad has a shutout streak of 320:58 with Uzo being on the pitch for every second of the streak. He also netted the second game-winning goal of his career in the 1-0 win over Winthrop. His efforts landed him on the College Soccer News and Top Drawer Soccer's National Teams of the Week. The honor is his second Big South Defensive Player of the Week plaudit this season.
Coastal Carolina steps out of conference play on Wednesday, Oct. 24 for a 7 p.m. kickoff at in-state rival South Carolina. The Chanticleers are 4-2-1 all-time against the Gamecocks on the pitch, including 2-1-0 in the NCAA Tournament. Coastal defeated South Carolina 3-2 in the sides' last meeting at the Aaron Olitsky Memorial Soccer Classic on Nov. 5, 2004.
Chanticleer fans can hear the voice of Chanticleer soccer Ryan Borawski describe all the action from the Gamecocks' Stone Stadium throughout the Grand Strand as the game will be carried on Fox Sports Radio 1050 AM and 101.9 FOX FM. Fans around the world can listen live online HERE. Pre match coverage will start at 6:50 p.m.
One of the most memorable moments of the series came during the 2002 season. The first round of the NCAA Tournament was the backdrop for the two Palmetto State soccer heavyweights and the Gamecocks' Stone Stadium was the stage. Despite being viewed as the underdog road team, the Chanticleers claimed a 2-1 overtime win and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 1992 season.
South Carolina took a 1-0 early lead at 35:57. Thomas Hilliard headed the ball to Dave Moore who knocked the ball past Chanticleers' goalkeeper Andrew Paxton. USC would carry a 1-0 lead into halftime. In the second half, Coastal Carolina tied the game in the 85th minute, sending the match into overtime. Bobby Crovo fed the ball, past two Gamecock defenders, to the feet of Mike Littlefield who netted his 16th goal of the year. In the second overtime, Bobby Crovo scored with 28 seconds remaining to give Coastal Carolina the victory.
Overall: 13-1-2, 8-0-0 Big South
Streaks: Win 10 (CCU record is 15, 2002); Unbeaten 14 (CCU record is 21, 2001-02)
In the Polls
Coastal Carolina is ranked ninth by Top Drawer Soccer, Soccer America, the NSCAA and Soccer Times and 13th by College Soccer News. The ninth-place ranking is the highest by the Chants this season, surpassing their 10th-place ranking in last week's Top Drawer Soccer poll.
In the NCAA Statistical Rankings
After leading the nation in goals per game (3.0) and total goals (66) last season, the Chanticleers are once again back on top of the rankings this season. Coastal ranks first in the NCAA in goals (40), assists (38) and total points (118), while holding the fifth spot with a 2.50 goals per game average. In addition, the Chants' defensive unit ranks sixth in goals against average (.54) and ninth in shutout percentage (.56).
The Honors Continue
Coastal Carolina men's soccer backline mates Henrik Robstad, Jhamie Hyde, Uchenna Uzo and Shawn McLaws have been named to the Top Drawer Soccer National Team of the Week for the week ending Oct. 21. In addition, Uzo was singled out by College Soccer News as a member of its weekly National Team and by the Big South Conference as the Defensive Player of the Week. The quartet joins forwards Ashton Bennett and Ricky Garbanzo as Chanticleers to be honored as members of Top Drawer Soccer's National Team of the Week this season. Robstad, Hyde, Uzo and McLaws combined to help post the team's third consecutive shutout and ninth of the season.
Coastal is riding a 10 game winning and 14 game unbeaten streak. During the winning streak the Chants have outscored their opponents by a staggering 29-4 margin, including a 21-1 margin in Big South play. Through the 14 game unbeaten streak Coastal has outscored opponents 36-8.
Staying Perfect in Big South Play
With its 1-0 win over Gardner-Webb on Saturday, Oct. 20, Coastal extended its current Big South Conference regular season winning streak to 17 games dating back to the start of the 2011 season (18 game unbeaten streak, 16-0-1). In posting a perfect 9-0-0 conference mark en route to a regular season championship in 2011 and a 8-0-0 record this season, the current Chants have easily surpassed Coastal's previous Big South regular season winning streak of 12 games that was established from the 2006-08 seasons.
So You Want to Come to the Beach
Since moving to their current home in 2002, the Chanticleers are 67-19-6 (.760) at the CCU Soccer Field. Moreover, Coastal holds an impressive 28-4-4 (.833) home record since the 2009 campaign, including a 8-0-1 record this season.
Bennett is Catching Fire
After a somewhat slow start to the season Ashton Bennett has caught fire as of late. He has found the back of the net seven times in his last six outings, including a pair of goals three of his last five games. Bennett currently leads the Big South and ranks eighth in the NCAA in total goals with 11. He ranks 13th in the country in total points (25), 22nd in goals per game (0.69) and 23rd in points per game (1.56). With his four-goal output during the week of Oct. 8-13, Bennett tied Claude Huggins (1985-88) for eighth all-time in CCU's record book with 34 career goals.
Spreading the Joy of Goals
Last season the Chanticleers led the NCAA with 66 goals in 22 games with Ashton Bennett (23) and Pedro Ribeiro (9) recording 32 of the scoring strikes. This season Coastal has netted 39 goals in 15 games to again lead the nation. However, unlike the 2011 campaign 12 different Chants have scored and while Bennett again leads the team with his 11 goals he is one of seven Chanticleers to score two or more goals this season. Sophomore Ricky Garbanzo ranks second on the team with six counters followed by senior Robby Joe Daniels and freshman Tevin Skyers with four each.
Give it Your Best Shot ... If You Can Get One Off
To date the Chanticleers have posted a combined nine team shutouts (tying for sixth on the CCU single season list) and an impressive .827 save percentage. Goalkeeper Federico Bertele has recorded 5.2 of those shutouts and ranks seventh in the NCAA with a .538 goals against average. However, Bertele and the other keepers work has been limited this season due to the outstanding play of the Chants' backline. The Coastal defensive unit led by All-American candidate Uchenna Uzo has limited opponents to a mere 132 shot attempts (8.25 per game) and only 48 on goal (3.25 per game). Moreover, Coastal's high-pressure defense has held three opponents (Florida Atlantic, UNC Asheville, VMI) without a shot on frame.
The Winning General
Coastal Carolina's 2-1 win over UNC Greensboro was the 200th for Chanticleer head coach Shaun Docking. Docking, who has collected 180 of his 200 wins at CCU, became the 46th active NCAA Division I coach to achieve the career milestone. Docking, who became Coastal's all-time wins leader with victory 167 over UNC Ashville on Oct. 15, 2011, entered the season as the 28th winningest active coach in the NCAA by percentage (.633) and 47th by total victories (194-107-9). To date, Docking holds a 206-107-29 (.644) overall record (17 years), including a 186-88-27 (.662) record in 15 seasons on the Chanticleer sideline.
Bennett Named Senior CLASS Finalist
As for Bennett, the Chants' standout was named one of 10 men's soccer finalists for the 2012 Senior CLASS Award for student-athletes who excel both on and off the field. The winner will be selected by a combination of media, coaches and fan votes, which can be made online at www.seniorCLASSaward.com. The results of the voting will be announced during the College Cup championships Dec. 7-9 in Hoover, Ala.