RICHMOND, Va. – Fourth-year VCU Head Coach Dave Giffard has made it clear on numerous occasions that he isn't afraid to challenge his team.
Coming off its best season in nearly a decade, the VCU men's soccer program has put together arguably the toughest schedule in the country this fall as the Rams will face 11 opponents who participated in last year's NCAA Tournament, including all of its non-conference foes, and three of the top eight national seeds (six overall) from a year ago.
The 2013 slate features home matches against defending national champion Indiana as well as New Mexico and Coastal Carolina, both of which reached the Round of 16 in last year's NCAA Tournament. VCU, which will face eight of the last 10 national champions this fall, also has road trips to perennial national powers Akron and Maryland.
"Simply put, this is the most challenging schedule I've ever had," said Giffard. "Our 11 non-conference opponents all participated in last year's NCAA Tournament, including six of the other 15 national seeds. We are on the road at two of the toughest environments in the country in Maryland and Akron, and we have incredible home games, including last year's NCAA champion Indiana, 10-time NCAA Champion Saint Louis, as well as New Mexico and Coastal Carolina."
Following a home exhibition match against former Colonial Athletic Association foe William & Mary on Aug. 21, the Rams kick off the 2013 regular season with three straight home matches, including the annual VCU Tournament at Sports Backers Stadium. The Black and Gold open against UAB on Aug. 30 before facing in-state rival Old Dominion on Sept. 1. VCU concludes its early season home stand against New Mexico on Sept. 6.
The Rams then hit the road for five of their next six matches with a trip to perennial national power and 2012 Final Four participant Maryland on Sept. 8. VCU will play in Akron's annual tournament the following weekend, where it will face the Zips, who have reached at least the round of 16 in five straight years including a national championship in 2010 and a runner-up finish in 2009, on Sept. 13 before battling Niagara on Sept. 15. The Black and Gold return to Sports Backers Stadium for a date with Coastal Carolina on Sept. 1 before back-to-back road matches against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents Wake Forest (Sept. 24) and Virginia (Oct. 1).
VCU returns to Richmond for four straight home dates, including a rematch of last year's Atlantic 10 Conference championship match against Saint Louis on Oct. 6 (which will count as a non-league game this year). The Rams then open traditional A-10 play against UMass (Oct. 11) and Rhode Island (Oct. 13) before concluding their non-conference schedule against defending national champion Indiana at Sports Backers Stadium on Oct. 18.
VCU closes out the regular season with four of its final six matches on the road, beginning at A-10 newcomer and former CAA rival George Mason on Oct. 20. The Rams also travel to Saint Joseph's (Oct. 27), St. Bonaventure (Nov. 8) and Duquesne (Nov. 10), and welcome La Salle and Fordham to Richmond on Oct. 25 and Nov. 3, respectively.
"Last year saw the best year in the history of the Atlantic 10, as four teams made their way into the NCAA Second Round, including two of the top 16 seeds," said Giffard. "I would expect that the competition this year will be even higher as we have several new coaches and a new team, George Mason, in the league to add to an already competitive mix."
The A-10 Championship is set for Nov. 14-17 in Dayton, Ohio.
2013 VCU MEN'S SOCCER SCHEDULE
|Aug. 21||WILLIAM & MARY||Sports Backers Stadium||7 p.m.|
|Aug. 30||UAB#||Sports Backers Stadium||7 p.m.|
|Sept. 1||OLD DOMINION#||Sports Backers Stadium||7 p.m.|
|Sept. 6||NEW MEXICO||Sports Backers Stadium||7 p.m.|
|Sept. 8||at Maryland||College Park, Md.||7 p.m.|
|Sept. 13||at Akron%||Akron, Ohio||7 p.m.|
|Sept. 15||vs. Niagara%||Akron, Ohio||12 p.m.|
|Sept. 21||COASTAL CAROLINA||Sports Backers Stadium||6 p.m.|
|Sept. 24||at Wake Forest||Winston-Salem, N.C.||7 p.m.|
|Oct. 1||at Virginia||Charlottesville, Va.||7 p.m.|
|Oct. 6||SAINT LOUIS||Sports Backers Stadium||1 p.m.|
|Oct. 11||UMASS*||Sports Backers Stadium||7:30 p.m.|
|Oct. 13||RHODE ISLAND*||Sports Backers Stadium||2:30 p.m.|
|Oct. 18||INDIANA||Sports Backers Stadium||7 p.m.|
|Oct. 20||at George Mason*||Fairfax, Va.||7 p.m.|
|Oct. 25||LA SALLE*||Sports Backers Stadium||7 p.m.|
|Oct. 27||at Saint Joseph's*||Philadelphia, Pa.||1 p.m.|
|Nov. 3||FORDHAM*||Sports Backers Stadium||12 p.m.|
|Nov. 8||at St. Bonaventure*||Olean, N.Y.||3 p.m.|
|Nov. 10||at Duquesne*||Pittsburgh, Pa.||1 p.m.|
|Nov. 14-17||Atlantic 10 Tournament||Dayton, Ohio||TBD|
# - VCU Tournament
% - Akron Tournament
* - Atlantic 10 Conference match
All home games in BOLD CAPS