Men's Soccer Takes Big South Conference Championship 3-1 Over Liberty
ROCK HILL, SC For the first time since 1995 and the third time in Coastal Carolina University men's soccer history, the Chanticleers will be making a trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Chants earned the trip with a 3-1 victory over Liberty University in Sunday's Big South Conference Championship game, earning the League's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
Sophomore forward Joseph Ngwenya tallied his second game-winning goal of the tournament in the 31st minute against Liberty. Ngwenya, who has posted six goals and one assist in Coastal's last six outings, took a deflection off a cross, dribbled by a Liberty defender and slipped the ball past goalkeeper Dean Short.
"It is great that we have come together at the point in the season where you really need to," said Coastal Carolina Head Coach Shaun Docking. "It has been six years since this program has made it past the first round of the Big South Tournament, so it is a relief to get that behind us."
Coastal Carolina (10-7-3) jumped out to an early 1-0 lead when a pair of freshmen combined for a goal. Midfielder Baldur Knutson crossed the ball from the right side as fellow freshman Mike Littlefield went high into the air for a header in just the eighth minute of play.
The Flames knotted the match at 1-1 in the 26th minute of action when Pavel Cancura scored off a cross from Brently Kellum. Coastal sealed the victory in the 83rd minute as Jason Smith took a cross from Bobby Crovo and slotted the ball into the open net.
Ngwenya, senior defender Tyler Hughes, freshman defender Charlie Roberts, and junior midfielder Tobin Whitmarsh earned Big South All-Tournament honors. Hughes, a four-time Big South All-Conference selection, was named the tournament's MVP after anchoring a defense which allowed just two goals in three matches.
The victory for Coastal Carolina gives the program a perfect 6-0 record all-time in Big South Conference men's soccer championship games. Liberty (9-10) falls to 0-4 all-time in championship games.
The Chanticleers will find out its NCAA first round opponent Monday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. The NCAA Men's Soccer Selection Show will be aired on FOX SportSouth.
Big South Tournament Most Valuable Player
Tyler Hughes, Coastal Carolina
Big South All-Tournament Team
Tyler Hughes, D, Coastal Carolina
Tobin Whitmarsh, MF, Coastal Carolina
Charlie Roberts, D, Coastal Carolina
Joseph Ngwenya, F, Coastal Carolina
Dean Short, GK, Liberty
Ben Strawbridge, D, Liberty
Chris Verdi, MF, Liberty
Eric Lona, GK, High Point
Barry Mitchell, MF, High Point
Donald MacGregor, D, Winthrop
Francis Wakhisi, F, Winthrop
Itavi Pondwa, MF, Charleston Southern
Ryan Murphy, MF, Elon
Kyle Britton, D, UNC Asheville
Jon Fosu, D, Radford