Mountaineers ready for first season in MAC
Published: Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, July 11, 2012 11:07
The West Virginia men’s soccer team will be playing its first season as a member of the Mid-American Conference this season.
In 2012, the Mountaineers will take on four teams that have won national championships, including the last two champions and three of the last five.
They will also play six teams from last year’s NCAA tournament and three teams that were ranked in the top 25 of the RPI at the end of the 2011 season.
"There are always challenges when moving into a new conference; different stadiums and facilities, different opponents, different styles of play – all of which we will be prepared for," said WVU assistant coach Brian Johnson. "We have put together a very competitive schedule this upcoming season.
"This will be a great experience for our players to face arguably the top college soccer teams in the country during our second week of the season on the road."
The Mountaineers will begin their 2012 season at home in the WVU Nike Classic against Hartford Aug. 25, followed by a match against Stetson Aug. 27.
Just a few days later, West Virginia will travel to North Carolina to face the defending 2011 NCAA College Cup champions.
The coaching staff is confident in his 2012 team. The Mountaineers will have an experienced group of players returning this season, as well as an excellent young group of freshmen.
"(Returning players) have a great sense of how one another plays, having been together for so many years now," Johnson said. "There will be a lot of competition at every position. This will only help raise the level of play during training sessions and better prepare us for games."
Following their match against North Carolina Sept. 2 the team will travel to Wake Forest, which last year earned an at-large bid into the 2011 NCAA tournament. The following week the Mountaineers will match up against Penn State on Sept. 6.
The Mountaineers will return home to play non-conference opponents Oakland Sept. 9 and American Sept. 15. And in the MAC season opener, the Mountaineers will play against Florida Atlantic at home Sept. 23.
On Sept. 26 the Mountaineers will end their four-game homestand in a non-conference match up against Iona.
WVU will travel once again for a conference matchup against Western Michigan Sept. 29. They will then return home for another non-conference game against Elon Oct. 2.
The next two matchups will be at home against MAC competitors, Buffalo Oct. 7 and Hartwick Oct. 14.
Once again, the Mountaineers will hit the road traveling to face 2011 NCAA participants Akron Oct. 20 and Northern Illinois Oct. 27.
The Mountaineers will return home for their final home non-conference game of the season against Stony Brook Oct. 30. Stony Brook was awarded an America East’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament last season.
West Virginia will end their 2012 season on the road against MAC competitors at Bowling Green Nov. 3.
The Mid-American Conference tournament will be held at the No. 1 seed Nov. 9-11. The NCAA College Cup will be held at Regions Park, in Hoover, Ala., Dec. 7-9.
"We are encouraged and excited for the 2012 season in the MAC and expect big things from this team," Johnson said.