CLINTON, Iowa – Head Coach Richard Markham and the Ashford University men's soccer team released their 2012 schedule on Wednesday. Highlighted on the slate are nine home matches and eight contests against teams which qualified for the NAIA Men's Soccer National Championships last season.
In addition, seven AU opponents landed in the final 2011 NAIA Men's Soccer Coaches' Top 25 Poll including two of the Saints' first three opponents.
Ashford kicks the season off with a three match road swing which begins on Friday, August 24 at Judson University. The Saints then visit Bethel College in Mishawaka, Ind. the next afternoon (Aug. 25) before ending the road stretch on Aug. 28 when the team visits Cedar Rapids for a showdown with the Mustangs of Mount Mercy University.
Bethel earned the seventh seed in last season's NAIA Men's Soccer National Championships while Judson just missed the NAIA tournament after a second place Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) Tournament finish. Mount Mercy ended the 2011 campaign with the #25 coaches' poll ranking.
The 2012 home opener also opens a four game home stand for the Saints when Missouri Valley College visits South Campus in Clinton on Sept. 1. MVC was listed as the #13-ranked team in the final poll of the 2011 season and received the #9-seed in last year's national tournament.
That matchup is followed up by visits from the University of St. Francis (Sept. 5), AIB College of Business (Sept. 8) and Illinois Tech (Sept. 15).
A trip to Baldwin City, Kan. for a matchup with perennial power Baker University follows on Sept. 15 before the Saints visit Olivet Nazarene (Sept. 19) and Avila University (Sept. 22) to close out the three game road trip. Baker was the #3-seed in last season's national tournament and advanced to the final four of the event before being ousted by eventual NAIA Champions, Lindsey Wilson, 2-0.
Former Midwest Collegiate Conference-foe Grand View visits Clinton on Sept. 25 while the Trojans of Hannibal-LaGrange University make the drive north on Sept. 29.
Both teams made appearances in the 2011 rendition of the NAIA Men's Soccer National Championships. GVU earned the #6-seed and made it to the final eight while Hannibal-LaGrange was labeled as the #15-seed and advanced to the round of 16.
Ashford then makes a trip to Salt Lake City, Utah to open the month of October. Ashford battles Cal State-San Marcos, a national tournament team last season, on Oct. 6 before taking on the Griffins of Westminister College the following afternoon (Oct. 7).
The Saints then close out the road portion of the 2012 campaign with its biggest test of the season when the team visits Hastings, Neb. for a showdown with the Broncos of Hastings College. The Broncos spent much of last season as the top-ranked team in the NAIA before dropping the 2011 NAIA Men's Soccer Championship game to Lindsey Wilson in overtime, 3-2.
Three consecutive home dates wrap up the regular season as Jamestown College (Oct. 20), St. Ambrose University (Oct. 24) and Indiana Tech (Oct. 30) make trips to Clinton.
The 2012 Association of Independent Institutions (A.I.I.) Men's Soccer Tournament will be held in San Diego, Calif. on Nov. 10-11 and features the top four teams in the league as calculated by the NAIA's Modified Polls Percentage Index.
|2012 AU Men's Soccer Home Schedule|
|Sept. 1||Missouri Valley College||4:00 p.m.|
|Sept. 5||University of St. Francis (IL)||7:00 p.m.|
|Sept. 8||AIB College of Business||1:00 p.m.|
|Sept. 11||Illinois Tech||7:00 p.m.|
|Sept. 25||Grand View University||7:00 p.m.|
|Sept. 29||Hannibal-LaGrange University||5:00 p.m.|
|Oct. 20||Jamestown College||1:00 p.m.|
|Oct. 24||St. Ambrose University||7:00 p.m.|
|Oct. 30||Indiana Tech||3:00 p.m.|