FLORENCE, SC – The Francis Marion University men’s soccer team has been picked as the preseason favorite according to the Conference Carolinas’ annual preseason poll. This will be the Patriots’ inaugural season as a member of the 13-member NCAA Division II conference.
Third-year FMU head coach Luis Rincon returns 16 lettermen, including nine starters, from last season’s 4-3-4 squad that lost in penalty kicks in the Peach Belt Conference Tournament championship match following a covid-abbreviated campaign last spring.
The Patriots tallied 112 points in the 2021 poll, including eight of a possible 11 first-place votes, to outdistance second-place Chowan University (104) and third-place Erskine College (103).
Rincon has added 14 newcomers to his roster – seven freshmen and seven transfers.
Leading the returnees are five All-Conference performers (in the Peach Belt): midfielder Sam Pollard, forward Alvaro Zamora, forward Javier Bello, defender Oier Bernaola, and midfielder Oliver Peters. Bello led the Patriots with 12 points (5 goals, 2 assists) during the 10-match season last spring, while Zamora added two goals and five assists.
The Francis Marion defense allowed only 13 goals and an average of only 5.1 shots on goal per match.
The Patriots, who were among the other schools receiving votes in the United Soccer Coaches’ Division II preseason Top 25 poll, will open their regular season on Sept. 2 with a 7 p.m. home match against 10-ranked Lander University.
Francis Marion will play a 17-match schedule this fall, including eight matches on Hartzler Field. Admission for home matches will be $8 for adults and $5 for students.
2021 Conference Carolinas Men’s Soccer Preseason Poll
School (1st-place) Total
Francis Marion (8) 112
Chowan (1) 104
Erskine (3) 103
Belmont Abbey 85
North Greenville 68
Mount Olive 65
Southern Wesleyan 13
Courtesy – Francis Marion Athletics