Asheville (4-11-3) hopes to pull off a huge upset on Thursday against Coastal Carolina. The Chanticleers are ranked ninth in the nation and bring a 16-2-0 record into the match. They went a perfect 9-0 in league play, including a 3-0 victory over the Bulldogs on Oct. 15 at Greenwood Field.
Asheville head coach Matt Kern knows the Bulldogs have a big challenge on Thursday but not an impossible one either.
"Coastal Carolina is obviously very good," declared Kern. "However, in the match at our place we played with them for a majority of the game. We conceded a goal in the first 30 seconds and then did a nice job staying with them for the rest of the game. They scored two goals late in the match when we were pressing to score.
"We're going to need a superb effort to win on Thursday," added Kern. "Coastal is playing very well right now and is strong at every position. But that's why you play the game, and we'll see what happens on Thursday. Our guys are ready. It was nice to win on Saturday (a 4-2 win over Presbyterian College) and hopefully that momentum helps us tomorrow."
Senior midfielder Jake Hagedorn is Asheville's leading goal scorer this year with eight. That's a career high for the Brevard native. It's the most goals scored by a Bulldog player since the 2007 when Scott Szymanski tallied nine goals. It marks just the second time in the past 10 seasons that an Asheville player has had at least eight goals.
Senior goalkeeper Lassi Hurskainen has been brilliant for the Bulldogs in 2011. For the third time in his great career, he has played every minute of every match this season. He enters the tournament ranked second nationally in total saves with 118 and fourth in saves per game at 6.56. Hurskainen has posted three shutouts on the year and has 11 for his career. He has 400 career saves, also second best in school history.
This will be the seventh time Asheville and Coastal Carolina have squared off in the Big South Tournament with CCU holding a 5-0-1 advantage. Asheville won on PK's in the quarterfinals of the 1999 tournament in Conway. The teams last met in 2008 in the semifinals with the Chanticleers winning, 1-0.