By Kevin Russell, Sports Editor
August 18, 2012
The men’s soccer team heads into their 2012 campaign with much to prove. Only two years removed from going undefeated in conference play, they will look to bounce back from what can only be described as a disappointing 9-9-3 record in 2011. Picked as the preseason number one, the Panthers finished 4-4-1 in conference, which earned them the sixth seed for the conference tournament.
The Panthers will begin this season on the road against local rival Elon University on at 8 p.m. on Aug. 25. The home opener for the Panthers will come at 7 p.m. on Aug. 31 at, as part of the Flash Gordon Invitational, when they will play Adelphi University.
As has been the case for the Panthers under head coach Dustin Fonder, they will play a very tough non- conference schedule, in hopes of better preparing them for their slate of Big South Conference games. The Panthers out of conference schedule this season includes games against Navy, UNC Greensboro, William and Mary College along with ACC opponent Virginia. In addition to these tough out of conference games, the Panthers will play their usual home games against Longwood University, University of North Carolina at Asheville, Virginia Military Institute, Gardner- Webb University and Radford University.
The Panthers return a lot of talent from last year’s squad, including nine starters. However, they did lose two key players: Karo Okiomah, who was drafted 12th in the MLS Supplemental draft, and Michael Chesler, star goal keeper.
With the losses of Okiomah and Chesler, Shane Malcom, Shawn Sloan and Fejiro Okiomah will all be looked at to carry the team early on. All three players worked very hard on their game this summer, playing for the Carolina Dynamo in the USL Premier Development League.
The Panthers are expected to be picked to finish right in the middle of the pack in the Big South.