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Aug. 15, 2006

COLUMBIA, S.C.–Head coach Mark Berson’s South Carolina men’s soccer team will start this season ranked in the top 25. The Gamecocks are No. 24 in the National Soccer Coaches Association Preseason Poll released on Tuesday.

The Gamecocks are coming off a 12-7-2 season that saw them win the Conference USA Tournament Championship and competed in the NCAA Tournament for the 18th time in school history. Carolina returns eight starters and 16 letterwinners and a weclomes a highly-touted freshman class to Columbia in 2006. Berson begins his 29th season at South Carolina with 391 wins, the fifth-most among active Division I coaches.

Defending national champion Maryland will start the year at No. 1. Fellow Conference USA team SMU opens at No. 7. South Carolina is one of three teams to appear in the preseason poll that were not ranked in the final 2005 poll, joining No. 18 South Florida and No. 25 Washington.

The Garnet and Black will kick off the 2006 campaign on Friday, Aug. 25, in Columbia against No. 5 Clemson. The match is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start at Stone Stadium.

NSCAA Presason Poll (August 15, 2006)Rank    School   1   University of Maryland2   University of Connecticut3   University of New Mexico4   University of Virginia5   University of North Carolina5   Clemson University7   Southern Methodist University8   Creighton University9   University of Akron10  UCLA11  University of California12  Indiana University13  Penn State University14  Duke University15  University of Notre Dame16  Wake Forest University17  St. John's University18  University of South Florida19  Cal State Northridge20  Santa Clara University21  UNC Greensboro22  UC Santa Barbara23  Old Dominion University24   University of South Carolina25  University of Washington
(2005 Final Record and Rank Shown)