|Charlotte 49ers No. 1 in Conference USA preseason soccer poll|
|Hough's Elliot Panicco earns defensive player of year|
|Published Friday, August 11, 2017 4:45 pm|
The Charlotte 49ers are favored to win the Conference USA soccer title.
The league’s coaches voted 15th-ranked Charlotte No. 1 in their preseason poll and redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Elliot Panicco, a Hough High graduate and CUSA Freshman of the Year last season, preseason Defensive Player of the Year.
Panicco, who was voted first-team All-Conference USA and earned the league’s Golden Glove Award as the top goalkeeper, was named freshman All-American by College Soccer News and TopDrawerSoccer.com. He led Conference USA and was 13th in the country with a 0.64 goals against average and earned 10 shutouts.
Also returning to Charlotte are 2016 Academic All-American defender Callum Montgomery and Sean Bowman along with forwards Daniel Bruce, Maclean Holbrook and Marco Sunol-Rojas as well as midfielders Tommy Madden, Ryan Spaulding and Zhuvonte Wilson.
Charlotte, which has advanced to the NCAA postseason in each of Kevin Langan’s five years as head coach, returns seven starters and 17 letter winners to a team that went 7-1 in the regular season and advanced to the NCAA tournament. They also added 12 newcomers.
New Mexico was second and Florida International third. The top seven teams advance to the league tournament at Old Dominion, Nov. 8-12.
Charlotte opens the exhibition season at home against Longwood on Aug. 15. The 49ers regular season home opener is against Winthrop Aug. 26 and the home CUSA opener is Sept. 9 against Marshall.
Conference USA preseason soccer poll:
2. New Mexico
5. South Carolina
7. Old Dominion
9. Florida Atlantic
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