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Clayton State Men's Soccer Previews

Special Photo
Clayton State senior Ryan Pugh returns to the Lakers lineup after being named Peach Belt Conference Player of the Year last season.

Special Photo Clayton State senior Ryan Pugh returns to the Lakers lineup after being named Peach Belt Conference Player of the Year last season.

Last season, Clayton State men’s team enjoyed its best season in the program’s history by reaching the NCAA Div. II Elite Eight. With three all-conference players returning, the Lakers have the firepower to make another long playoff run.

Coach: Pete Peterson

Last season: 19-4 overall and finished ranked fifth in the final poll.

Returning starters: 8

Outlook: The expectations are pretty high for the Lakers, who are coming off a long postseason run. Clayton State enters the season ranked fifth in the nation in the preseason National Soccer Coaches’ Association of America poll. This is an experience group with 10 seniors among the top returning players. Speed will again be the name of the game for the Lakers, who were the Peach Belt Conference regular season champion last season. Peterson’s group should be challenged this season with a schedule that has four opponents that enter the season ranked.

Star power: Conference player of the year Ryan Pugh returns at his forward position. In 21 starters last season, he had 16 goals and four assists. Matty Phillips and Brian Garcia were also named to the all-conference team. Arturo Crez returns after scoring four goals and seven assist and being named conference freshman of the year.

Newcomers: Peterson signed a talented incoming class. He has some high expectations for Janny Rivea, a transfer from South Carolina, and Chris Klute, who transferred from Furman, another Div. I school. The Lakers are waiting for Elliot Prost to get clearance from the NCAA. He is a freshman from France.

Peterson says: “We have a lot of speed up front and we have to capitalize on it. We will try to overwhelm opponents with some high pressure. We have a seasoned group that knows how to manage a game.”