Men?s Soccer Announces 2008 Schedule
The Eagles will face three defending conference champions (Jacksonville of the Atlantic Sun Conference, Tulsa of Conference USA, and Furman of the Southern Conference) and three contenders from the 2007 NCAA tournament (Tulsa, Campbell and Furman).
But unique to this year’s slate is the absence of a regular season tournament. At the start of the 2007 season, Georgia Southern competed in three tournaments before beginning the SoCon portion of the schedule.
“Last year we played so many games at the beginning of the season in such a short period of time that we wanted to try to space out the matches a little bit,” said Kennedy. “We had a couple tournament invitations, but we just never found anything that would work for our schedule.”
Though the games are spaced further apart this year, the Eagles will commence the regular season with no less than a challenging trio of road games, battling Tulsa (Aug. 29), Clemson (Sep. 5) and Campbell (Sep. 13).
“That stretch where we play Tulsa and Clemson within eight days is going to be good,” said Kennedy.
“Tulsa won their conference last year in Conference USA. They advanced to the second round in the national tournament. We’re excited about the opportunity to go out there. It’s going to be our official opener. So that’s going to be a great early test for us. And although Clemson did not make the national tournament last year, they’re always a great test and a quality program from the Atlantic Coast Conference.”
“Then Campbell won the Atlantic Sun tournament last year and lost in the national tournament to Furman. So right out of the gate we have three pretty big games right there."
Georgia Southern will then return home to Statesboro to commence a five-game homestand. First, the Eagles will play host to three non-conference opponents in North Florida (Sep. 17), Jacksonville (Sep. 21) and USC Upstate (Sep. 24). Then Georgia Southern enters the SoCon portion of the slate.
“That will be three games to get acclimated at home, then obviously two big games right there versus Elon and Furman,” said Kennedy. “Elon finished tied for third in the conference last year, while Furman won both the conference and the tournament. So there’s three home games right there to get us prepared for Elon and Furman.”
Games versus the Phoenix and Paladins are scheduled for Oct. 4 and Oct. 7, respectively at Eagle Field.
With the SoCon portion of the schedule in full swing, the Eagles will then hit the road to clash with Appalachian State (Oct. 11) and College of Charleston (Oct. 14).
The remainder of the schedule alternates home and away matches, sprinkled with a pair of non-conference match-ups.
On Oct. 17, the Eagles will entertain Gardner-Webb before taking a week off. After the break, GSU will travel north to Wofford in an Oct. 25 game in Spartanburg, S.C.
Three days later, the Eagles will play host to Mercer (Oct. 28) to close out the month.
A road trip to Davidson (Nov. 1) will kick off the new month and then the Eagles close out the regular season entertaining UNC Greensboro (Nov. 4) at Eagle Field.
“I think the conference gets better and better each year,” said Kennedy, noting some coaching changes within the league.
“Appalachian State and Wofford both have new coaches. Shaun Pendleton got hired at Appalachian State and was very successful at the Division II level (Lynn University). And then long-time College of Charleston assistant Ralph Polson is at Wofford now.
“So if history means anything, I think the last two hires within the conference were Elon, where they turned around and finished third in Darrin Powell’s first year (2005). And then I was hired a year later here and we turned around and finished second (2006). So I would imagine that Appalachian State and Wofford are going to be with that new coach’ mentality and will be pretty competitive.”
With anticipation and excitement, Kennedy and the Eagles look forward to the challenges that lie ahead, counting each non-conference match as an opportunity to help prepare for the conference games, which, in turn, will prepare for the league tournament.
“We have nine home games including an exhibition against Georgia State (Aug. 16). Being able to play eight (regular season) games at home is pretty exciting. And then our non-conference opponents with teams of Tulsa’s, Campbell’s and Clemson’s caliber, and Jacksonville and North Florida are always competitive. USC Upstate, Gardner-Webb and in-state rival Mercer are always good opponents. It’s a competitive schedule. We’re excited about it. We hope these out-of-conference games are going to prepare us for Southern Conference matches.”
A top-four finish upon completion of the regular season will guarantee a home game in the first round of the Southern Conference tournament (Nov. 8). For those teams that advance, the semifinal and final matches will be played at Alumni Stadium in Davidson, N.C. on Nov. 14 and 16.
“As always, it is important for us to try and get in that top four,” said Kennedy. “In my opinion, that home game is so important for that first-round match. So to try to get a home seed for the tournament is going to be the primary goal in conference.”
- Category: Men's Soccer
- Published on Tuesday, 17 June 2008 00:22