INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.-- The Mars Hill men's soccer team has climbed to number one in the Southeast Region in the second official NCAA Men's Soccer Regional Rankings, which were released Wednesday.
The Lions had previously been ranked third in last week's poll. Mars Hill is currently ranked 13th in the nation with a 12-2-1 record. The Lions clinched the school's first ever outright regular-season South Atlantic Conference title with a 2-0 victory over Wingate last Saturday. The official NCAA Polll is used to determine seeding in the Regionals of the NCAA Tournament. The top six teams in each region will earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Mars Hill jumped ahead of both Lander and Flagler, who were ranked one and two respectively last week. Lander (10-2-1) dropped a 2-0 decision to Young Harris last week, while Flagler (9-3-3) battled Anderson to a scoreless tie and lost 3-1 to North Georgia.
The Lions own a 2-1-1 record against schools ranked in the Southeast Region's top eight. MHC defeated Wingate (fifth) and Lincoln Memorial (sixth), battled UNC Pembroke (fourth) to a draw, and lost to Limestone (eighth).
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A stifling defense has paced Mars Hill in their first season under head coach Gary Hamel. The Lions have allowed the fewest goals in the SAC, with goalkeeper Zac Scott's 0.873 goals-against average ranking second in the nation. A balanced offensive attack has featured four players with five-plus goals, led by Shadi Harb and Stephen Bivens with eight apiece. The Lions have outscored their opponents by 22 goals this season.
Mars Hill hosts non-conference foe Montreat tonight at 7:00 p.m. in Meares Stadium. The Lions close regular-season play at Carson-Newman Saturday night at 7:30 p.m.
MHC has clinched the top seed in the 2012 Food Lion South Atlantic Conference Men's Soccer Championship and will host a first round opponent to be determined next Tuesday, Oct. 30.