Railsplitters Ranked #1 In NCAA Division II Men's Soccer
September 2, 2008
HARROGATE, TN - Less than two years after their first NCAA Final Four appearance, and less than a year after making their first trip to the NCAA Division II National Championship, on Tuesday afternoon, the Lincoln Memorial University men's soccer team finally earned the No. 1 spot in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll.
Tuesday's honor marks the first time in the school's history that an LMU athletics team has been ranked No. 1 in the country. Following the 2007 run at the national title, the Railsplitters lost seven starters and the monumental job of replacing several marquis players was left to Railsplitter Head Coach Helio D'Anna.
Less than a week ago, the Railsplitters opened the 2008 schedule when they took on Delta State University of the Gulf South Conference. The match was originally supposed to have been a home match for the Railsplitters but was moved to nearby Barbourville, Kentucky due to delays in the completion of LMU's new soccer field and stadium. Despite having to play without Daktronics National Player of the Year Leandro Pereira (Brasilia, Brazil) who is still sidelined from an injury sustained last season, the Railsplitters rolled up a 2-0 win over the Statesmen to pick-up where the left off in 2007.
On Saturday, the Railsplitters traveled to Wilson, North Carolina where they again played without the services of their top scorer Leandro Pereira. While the absence may have affected the Railsplitters' depth somewhat, it didn't affect the final outcome, as the LMU men thrashed Barton College 3-0 to remain unbeaten and unscored upon in two matches this season.
Last week's shutout victories no doubt propelled the Railsplitters into the nation's top spot however, the move most likely wouldn't have happened if top seed Franklin Pierce, last year's national champion, hadn't been defeated this week by Dominican (New York) 2-0.
Although the season is only two games old, all of LMU's opponents this year will paint a target on the Railsplitters' back. However, the first two games of the year are an indication that despite losing last year's seven seniors, LMU may again be in the hunt for the South Atlantic Conference Championship, another regional title and an NCAA post season tournament berth.