NASHVILLE – Coming off of the most successful season in program history, the Lipscomb women’s soccer team will be taking on one of their toughest schedules yet for the 2016 season.
Trying to improve on a program-best 12-4-4 record and ASUN Championship game appearance, the Lady Bisons will be taking on schools from nine different conferences including: SEC, SoCon, Sun Belt, AAC, Ohio Valley, Conference USA, SWAC, and Horizon.
“It’s fun to see opponents from different conferences because each of them brings a unique style with them,” Lipscomb women’s soccer head coach Kevin O’Brien said. “For us as a coaching staff and as a team it’s important to be able to solve different styles of play, and we’re going to see that this year.”
The Purple and Gold have also scheduled four SEC opponents. Vanderbilt will be coming to the Lipscomb Soccer Complex on Aug. 21 for the first regular season home game followed immediately by a road trip to Mississippi State (Aug. 26) and Ole Miss (Aug. 28). The Lady Bisons will visit Arkansas on Sept. 18 to close out non-conference play.
“We’re in a region of the country that’s just rich with talent,” O’Brien said. “There are so many good teams in this area and in the SEC. it’s usually one of the top three conferences in the nation. So, for us to have the opportunity to put four of those opponents on our schedule is great.
“We’re thankful that we’re being looked upon as a good opponent. I think when I first got here it was tough for us to get a good game because of our low rankings. Now teams feel good about adding us. It’s a compliment to our girls and our coaches that these teams want to put us on our schedule because they know it is going to be a good match.”
Seven Lady Bison opponents finished the 2015 season ranked in the nation’s top 100 for RPI: Ole Miss (24), Cincinnati (39), FGCU (57), MTSU (66), Vanderbilt (71), Georgia State (95), and Memphis (99). Lipscomb also placed within that group in the 100th spot.
“It’s exciting, but a little bit scary,” O’Brien said. “The talent level is something we’ve never seen before from top to bottom. I don’t think Lipscomb, in its history, has ever challenged itself with a schedule this difficult. It’s important. If we ever want to have a chance at winning our conference and going on to a NCAA Tournament, you have to play top teams.”
Exhibition matchups at ETSU (Aug. 6) and at home against Georgia State (Aug. 9) and Memphis (Aug. 12) will kick off the regular season. Lipscomb will then travel down the street to face Battle of the Boulevard rival Belmont on Aug. 19 in the first regular season game of the campaign.
The Lady Bisons will start ASUN play with an away tilt against Kennesaw State on Sept. 24. The first home conference matchup will take place on Oct. 7 versus Stetson, with the regular season ending on Oct. 22 against NJIT.
“The schedule prepares us to be the best when we need to be at the end of the season,” O’Brien. “For those recruits out there that are following different programs it shows them that even though we’re mid-major, we don’t schedule that way.
“When you compare our strength of schedule to a lot of our contemporaries it’s not even close. I think its commonplace for a lot of mid-majors to sprinkle maybe one top opponent in there. But, when you look at the likes of who we’ve got, it’s impressive. It shows that if you want to play top Division I soccer in a great city like Nashville, Lipscomb is a great destination.”