RICHMOND – After bringing in a large recruiting class and returning ten starters from last season's lineup, the 2017-18 season for the VCU Women's Soccer program is one with high aspirations. The excitement for the season looms large, as the program and Head Coach Lindsey Martin announced the release of their 2017-18 slate on Wednesday afternoon. 

"We feel super optimistic about this year's team and the type of talent and depth we will have," said Head Coach Lindsey Martin. "We return a lot from last year's young team and we add a very solid incoming class to the mix. The schedule is tough from top to bottom, but we felt it was the right year for such a test. We feel primed to take it on." 

The Rams will be challenged early and often for a total of 20 games on the season, as they will face four programs that participated in the NCAA Tournament just a year ago. The Rams will also face the final four teams of the Atlantic 10 Championship from 2016 as well. 

After two early exhibitions against East Carolina and VMI, the Rams will open at home on August 18 against Iowa Hawkeyes. Following the home opener, VCU travels to Liberty on August 20 to take on the Flames, one of the four teams on the schedule who made the tournament last year after winning the Big South title. 

The Black and Gold will also host local programs in Old Dominion, American, and Longwood, and hit the road for a trio of games on the road against Clemson, Charlotte, and UNC Greensboro. The Clemson Tigers also made the NCAA Tournament in 2016, making a run to the Sweet 16 before getting eliminated by North Carolina. Charlotte was also an NCAA Tournament participant winning the Conference USA championship, losing in the first round to Duke. 

"There is no doubt about the toughness of our non-conference schedule," said Martin. "Three of the eight teams competed in the NCAA Tournament last year and the other five are nothing to look past. We have a good mixture of home and away matches and this will be the first year that we prepare with two exhibition games instead of just the one. Hopefully it will give us more opportunity to prepare for our big season opening weekend." 

On September 21, the Rams will open Atlantic 10 Conference play against last year's A-10 representative in the NCAA Tournament, Dayton. The game will be played at Sports Backers Stadium at 7 p.m. 

VCU's other home conference games will feature UMass, Saint Joseph's, Saint Bonaventure, and Rhode Island. They will face tough road conference games at Davidson, Duquesne, George Mason, Richmond, and La Salle. 

"The A-10 games are on a new cycle this season. We get to play some teams that we have not faced in years. In the case of Saint Joseph's, we have not played them in the past four years. They had an excellent year last year and we are excited to get them back on the schedule. " 

To see a list of dates and times of the complete schedule, please click here.