Women's Soccer Releases 2012 Slate
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Head Coach Heather Henson has stacked her second schedule at the helm of the Belmont women's soccer program with teams that will challenge the Bruins early and often as well as prepare it for its first year of play in a new athletic conference.
In their first year in the Ohio Valley Conference, the Bruins will host a total of nine home contests at E.S. Rose Park, including five league tilts, and take on two teams who made appearances in the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
The Bruins open the season with a pair of exhibition matchups, headlined by the historic Battle of the Boulevard with former conference rival Lipscomb on August 10. Two days later, BU hits the road for a game at Alabama A&M. The Bruins hold a 9-1 all-time series advantage over the Bisons while this year's matchup with the Lady Bulldogs will mark the first meeting between the programs since 2009 with BU holding a 1-0 advantage.
Belmont officially opens its 2012 campaign on the road at first-time opponent Toledo on August 19. The Rockets went 14-7-2 overall one year ago and were edged in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. BU then returns home for its longest homestand of the season at Rose Park. The Bruins open the four game series hosting Union on August 24 and Appalachian State two days later, followed by Evansville on August 31 and Miami of Ohio on September 2. Belmont will face a pair of first-time opponents in the Mountaineers and Redhawks but will be in the hunt for its second win over the Purple Aces since 2006.
BU then hits the road for a trio of games, stopping at Alabama State on September 7, Middle Tennessee State on September 9 and wrapping at Western Kentucky on September 15. This will only mark the second time the Bruins have faced off against the Hornets and the first time since 2009 Belmont has taken on the Blue Raiders, who hold a 7-4 all-time series advantage. BU will be looking for its first program win over the Hilltoppers with WKU holding a 2-0 all-time series advantage.
"I am excited for our 2012 schedule," Henson said. "We are excited to play some of our old non-conference rivals from the Sun Belt in MTSU and WKU as well as add some other quality non-conference opponents in University of Toledo, Miami of Ohio, Appalachian State, and Evansville. I feel our non-conference schedule will give us an opportunity to work through our lineup and find the best blends of players on the field."
The Bruins open play for the first time in the OVC at home with a two-game homestand, hosting Eastern Kentucky on September 28 and Morehead State two days later. The Colonels, who will be first-time opponents for Belmont, finished second in the conference regular season race while the Eagles, who BU has not seen action against since 2004, were runners-up in the conference tournament.
Belmont has its longest road stretch of the season to open the month of October. The Bruins travel to Murray State, a team BU has not faced off against since 2004, on October 5 and Austin Peay, who Belmont has split its last two meetings with, two days later. BU closes the road trip with stops at Jacksonville State on October 12 and Tennessee Tech two days later. The Bruins will be in the hunt for their first win over the Gamecocks in program history but will be looking to expand its unbeaten streak dating back to 2005 against the Golden Eagles.
BU closes the regular season playing three out of four matches at home, hosting Southeast Missouri State on October 19, and UT Martin two days later. The Redhawks won the regular season conference race but the Skyhawks won the OVC Tournament to advance to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history last year.
Belmont's final road game of the season is at Eastern Illinois on October 26 and the Bruins wrap the 2012 campaign at home against first-time opponent SIU Edwardsville. The OVC Tournament is slated to begin November 1 and will be hosted at campus sites.
"Joining the Ohio Valley Conference this fall brings excitement to our campus. This is a great move for Belmont University and the Athletic Department as it will inspire regional rivals. This will add to the atmosphere at our athletic events," Henson said. "Transitioning to a new conference and competing against new opponents will have its challenges. As a team, we will do our best to prepare and show well in our first season in the OVC."