Patriots picked second in PBC soccer poll
Heading into the delayed 2020 season under the direction of second-year head coach Luis Rincon, the Francis Marion University men’s soccer team has been tabbed to finish second according to the annual Peach Belt Conference pre-season coaches’ poll.
Three Patriots – senior goalkeeper Maximiliano Rocco, junior midfielder Sam Pollard, and sophomore Alvaro Zamora – were named to the PBC Pre-Season All-Conference Team.
Young Harris College is the pre-season favorite as the Mountain Lions earned 47 points, including six of eight first-place votes. FMU tallied 42 points, including the remaining two first-place votes. Lander University was third with 39 points.
FMU returns 13 lettermen, including eight starters, from last season’s historic 16-5-1 squad that equaled the third-most wins in program history. The Patriots won the Peach Belt Conference Tournament resulting in the program’s third trip to the NCAA Division II National Tournament (FMU advanced to the second round). The Patriots spent six weeks nationally ranked in the United Soccer Coaches Top-25 poll, including three weeks in the Top 10.
FMU allowed only 80 shots on goal last season for a 3.64 per match average, while offensively Francis Marion scored the third-most goals (40) in the Peach Belt.
Rocco, a native of Buenos Aires, Argentina, started and played all but one match last season. He ranked fourth in Division II with a school-record 11 shutouts and sixth in minutes played in goal (1,959:19), 11th nationally in goals against average (0.689), and 18th in save percentage (0.808). He tallied 63 saves and earned D2CCA All-Region recognition.
Pollard, a two-time All-Conference selection, led the FMU squad by playing all but 36 minutes last year. He scored one goal and assisted on five other scores. The Perth, Australia, native helped anchor the Patriot defense that allowed only 17 goals in 22 matches for a conference-leading goals average of 0.74, including the school-record 11 clean sheets. He was named to a pair of post-season All-Region squads.
Zamora, a native of Madrid, Spain, ranked second in the Peach Belt with four game-winning scores and fourth in shots (48), while tallying five goals and four assists altogether. He was named the PBC Co-Freshman of the Year and also gained two All-Region team honors.
Francis Marion will open its season Feb. 1 with a 6:30 p.m. kick-off at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Fla. The Patriots’ home opener will be Monday, Feb. 15, against the University of North Georgia at 3:30 p.m.