CONWAY, S.C. - Neither showers and sloppy field conditions nor Lancers could stop the No.10 Coastal Carolina men’s soccer team on Friday night at the CCU Soccer Field as the Chanticleers opened the 2012 campaign with a 4-nil win over Big South newcomer Longwood.
Despite the intermittent rain showers that fell throughout the first half, leading to unsavory field conditions, the Chanticleers flexed their collective muscle and dominated the pace of play through the entire contest, netting a pair of goals in each half.
“I am very pleased to get this win against a very good Longwood club, especially since it was not only our home and season opener but also our Big South opener,” said veteran head coach Shaun Docking.
After maintaining the majority of possession through the first 20 minutes of play, the Chants finally found the back of the net off the foot of junior Justin Portillo. Portillo, who was on the receiving end of a well-placed pass by Ashton Bennett, took two touches and uncorked a rocket past the diving Longwood keeper for Coastal’s first marker of the season.
Nearly two minutes later the Chants benefited from a Longwood own goal.
The second stanza started much like the first with Coastal controlling the ball more times than not; however, the Longwood defense and goal keeper managed to keep the Chants off the board until 74th minute. That’s when Bennett took over and made his mark on the game. The consensus Preseason All-American counted Coastal’s third goal of the contest with a blast to the right side of the net after newcomer Mikey Lightbourne found the streaking Bennett with a through ball.
Eleven short minutes later Bennett, who led the nation in goals in 2011 with 23, netted his second of the night off a double assist by Shawn McLaws and Robby Joe Daniels. The Preseason Big South Player of the Year would finish the night with five points (2g, 1a), and seven shots with four falling on frame.
Even though he was unable to find the back of the net, M.A.C. Hermann Trophy Watch List member Pedro Ribeiro fired off five shots, forcing the Longwood keeper to convert three of their nine saves.
Although the Chants controlled the pace of play, Longwood was able to put together an attack on a counter in the first half that forced sophomore keeper Federico Bertele to make his first save in a Chanticleer uniform.
Coastal finished the match with a 24-2 advantage in shots, including 17 in the second half, and held a 5-1 edge in corner kicks. Both sides finished with 11 fouls and two yellow cards.
The Chanticleers return to action on Monday, Aug. 17, in a top 10 clash at No. 5 UNC Charlotte. The Chants fell to the eventual national runner-up 2-1 in last season’s opening bout. Kick off from the 49ers Transamerica Field is set for 7 p.m.