NASHVILLE - The Lipscomb men’s soccer team and head coach Charles Morrow have announced the schedule for their 2018 campaign.
The defending ASUN champions, coming off of their first NCAA Tournament appearance in program history, will face a tough slate of opponents in the fall.
“It’s a challenging schedule and I feel we’ll be tested in a number of ways,” Morrow said. The main goal is to play as tough of teams we can, in order to prepare us for the conference season.
“I am also excited about the number guys we have returning from a championship season, but I’m equally as excited about the group we have coming in. We didn’t plan on this season being a rebuilding year, so there was a clear picture of what we wanted in recruiting in order to keep us on the same upward trajectory we’ve been on the last few years.
This fall slate features seven teams that finished the 2017 season ranked in the RPI top-100, as well as opponents from the ACC, AAC, SoCON, WCC, Missouri Valley, Conference USA, and Sun Belt.
“Though we face seven opponents in the top 100, I think the schedule will look even better at the end of the year,” Morrow said. “We have a few teams on the slate that, although they might have had a down year in 2017, they should be back to their typical form.”
Lipscomb will get things started in the preseason when it takes on former ASUN member Mercer in Macon, Georgia on Aug. 11. The Bisons then host Lindsey Wilson on Aug. 14, and trek to Missouri in order to take on Saint Louis for the first time ever on Aug. 18.
“We feel really good about the preseason games that are lined up,” Morrow said. “We play three very, different teams that will challenge us in different ways in terms of their playing style. It will provide our younger guys with experience of seeing different types of teams.
“These matches will really get us prepared for the regular season.”
The Purple and Gold will kick off the regular season at home on Aug. 24 against Battle of the Boulevard rival Belmont. The Bisons have gone unbeaten in 10 of the last 11 meetings against the Bruins in a series that last took place on the pitch in 2016.
“This crosstown rivalry is one that players and fans get excited for,” Morrow said. “We couldn’t ask for a better way to start off the season.”
They will then have their first road test Aug. 27 against South Carolina, the first of three Conference USA opponents on the schedule.
“That first week will be a big challenge for us,” Morrow said. “First, we play a really emotional game with our biggest rival, and then we turn around and go to South Carolina, who is traditionally a NCAA Tournament team. It will be a good test for our group.”
Following a trip to Georgia State on Sept. 1, Lipscomb will host San Diego for the first time in program history on Sept. 6. Last season the Bisons got a pair of goals from Ivan Sakou, including a 103rd-minute score to knock off the Toreros 3-2 in double overtime.
Eleven days later, ETSU will return to Lipscomb on Sept. 15. It will be the first meeting with the Bucs since leaving the ASUN in 2014.
On Sept. 18, the Purple and Gold will welcome Kentucky to Music City after defeating the Wildcats 3-2 in Lexington last season. Though it will be the fourth consecutive season these squads have faced off, 2018 will be the first time Kentucky has ever played at the Lipscomb Soccer Complex.
The third Conference USA opponent will visit Nashville on Sept. 25 as UAB takes on the Bisons. It will be the fourth home game in five matches.
Lipscomb will open conference play at Jacksonville on Sept. 22 before taking on FGCU in the ASUN home opener on Sept. 29.
October will see the Bisons take four road trips in their first five matches. They will drop in on North Florida Oct. 6, before a nonconference meeting at Evansville three days later. Recent ASUN addition Liberty (Oct. 13) will be the only home visit in that five-game stretch.
The Bisons will stampede up to Louisville on Oct. 16 to take on the Cardinals, who finished last season ranked eighth overall in RPI. They will then wrap up road action Oct. 20 at NJIT.
Lipscomb will close out the regular season with back-to-back home matches against in-state rival Memphis on Oct. 23 and Stetson on Oct 27.
The ASUN Championship will be held Nov. 2, 4, 10 at home sites.
“We’ve got some midweek games during the ASUN that will allow us to look at the roster and get some experience for a number of players,” Morrow said. “We are really happy with the schedule that is in front of us.”