Win. That's all the Coastal Carolina men’s soccer team had to do Saturday night to clinch second place in the Sun Belt and achieve that first-round bye.
And win the Chanticleers did.
A 4-0 thrashing of the Georgia Southern Eagles at CCU Soccer Stadium helped the Chants achieve a goal they had been hoping to accomplish all season.
“We wanted that first round bye because it is so crucial when you reach postseason play,” said Coastal Carolina assistant head coach Kyle Russell. “Instead of focusing on three opponents in six days, we only have to focus on two.”
Georgia Southern was the more dominant team early in the first half, but senior goalkeeper Albert Ciroi kept the Chants in the game with an acrobatic save in the 16th minute.
Coastal began attacking late in the first half. Tyrone Mondi scored his fifth goal of the season in the 40th minute to help the Chants gain control going into the halftime break. But the Chants weren’t done yet as Sam Snaith headed home a great cross in from Naty Endale just before the break.
The Chants went into the second half with a two-goal cushion and that lead increased right out of the gate as Mondi found the back of the net again in the 50th minute to make it 3-0 Coastal.
“This was a must-win game for us,” Mondi said. “It’s great to get on the scoresheet. We lacked a finishing touch the past few games, so we focused on that in training this week.”
The Chanticleers still did not take their foot off the gas pedal. In the second half, Coastal outshot the Eagles 10-3.
The Chants kept that attacking pressure up throughout the entire half as the Chants found their fourth goal of the game when Sam Snaith scored in the 88th minute. Snaith now has six goals on the season.
“Our boys showed up tonight,” Russell said. “It was the final home game of the regular season and it was senior night, so our boys wanted to send our seniors off into the playoffs on a good note.”
While the win Saturday was emphatic, the Chanticleers were still missing the Sun Belt preseason offensive player of the year in Tsiki Ntsabeleng and Claudio Repetto, a talented player from Italy, due to injury.
Russell said the goal now ahead of the Sun Belt tournament is to get healthy.
“We want to get our guys out of the stands and onto the bench and on the field,” he said. “We have a lot of depth on our team and those guys stepped up tonight big time.”
The Chanticleers finish the regular season at 8-7-2 overall and 3-2 in Sun Belt play. The Chanticleers will travel to Boone, North Carolina, for the 2019 Sun Belt Championship. The tournament starts Wednesday, but the Chants will play on Friday after clinching the first round bye.