LakePoint, Ga. - The 2018 ASUN Conference Women's Soccer regular season kicks off on August 16th with Jacksonville and Liberty taking the pitch, while the remaining seven league squads hit the turf on Friday. Exhibition contests begin on Wednesday as teams prepare for the 26th season of ASUN Conference Women's Soccer.
Highlighting the overall schedule for the conference are matchups with eight teams from the 2017 NCAA Tournament including matchups with Auburn, Clemson, Monmouth, South Florida, Stony Brook, UCF, Vanderbilt and Virginia.
FGCU looks to continue their run of eight-straight ASUN Regular Season titles with a roster led by three returning All-Conference members including Goalkeeper of The Year, Melissa Weck. Coming off their sixth trip to the NCAA Tournament, the Eagles return to the pitch with an eye on their 12th-straight double-digit victory campaign. After recording 11 clean sheets throughout the 2017 season, the defense will again be looked upon as the anchor for one of the most dominant teams in the country.
The 2017 ASUN Championship Runner-Up, Lipscomb hopes to get over the hump and earn the auto-bid for the NCAA Tournament. The Bisons embark on a neutral-site twin bill when they play Ohio and Miami (Fla.) at Vanderbilt in the second weekend of the season. The conference gauntlet starts off tricky as they go on the road three times with two trips to the Sunshine State.
Stetson claimed third place in the ASUN standings in 2017 before falling out of the conference tournament at the hands of Jacksonville. The Hatters have a tough start to the new year, opening with five of their first seven games on the road. They do however have a stretch in the middle of conference play that sees them in front of the home crowd four times in a row. Stetson has won nine games or more in each of the last three seasons and look to make it a four-year run behind three returning All-ASUN honorees.
Kennesaw State slotted fourth last season and hope some key freshmen from 2017 take the next step and lead the team further. The highlight of the match outlook are dates with three SEC teams, including Auburn, Alabama and Georgia. In seven of KSU's nine wins from a year ago, the Owls recorded a shutout and return sophomore goalie Tiffany Sornpao.
North Florida returns reigning Freshman of The Year Thais Reiss and looks to build on a 2017 season that saw them win nine games for the first time since 2011. Much like with Stetson, the Ospreys get to play four conference games in a row at home but also do the opposite over the last week of the season when they visit four straight ASUN rivals.
Jacksonville matched its three-year high in 2017 by winning four games at home out of 10 contests. Eleven home meetings - including four to start the year - should give the Dolphins a chance to best that mark. JU's key stretch comes when they close the season in mid-October with a trio of road ASUN contests to end the regular season.
NJIT posted its first winning season since 2005 by finishing at 9-8 with a 2-5 mark in conference. Those nine victories were an improvement over six from 2016 and two in 2015, indicating the development of the program. A hot start in 2018 is possible with only one game away from home in the month of August.
Liberty is one of two new programs to the ASUN in 2018 and they bring with them six straight 10-win seasons. The Flames previously played in the Big South where they won seven times in 2017. Their first slate in the ASUN includes four of their first five conference matches on the road with two trips to Lipscomb and North Alabama.
North Alabama is the second new member to the ASUN as they transition from Division II and one of the power conferences, the Gulf South. UNA had made three of the last four NCAA Division II Tournaments before departing in July. The Lions' first go-round as a D-I program features five games versus teams from Alabama, including home tilts with Troy and UAB.
Conference play in the ASUN begins on September 21 as Lipscomb meets NJIT, Liberty plays Kennesaw State in their first ASUN game, Stetson travels to North Florida and FGCU makes the trek to Jacksonville. North Alabama plays its first ASUN contest on September 23 when they host Kennesaw State in Florence, Ala.
2018 ASUN Women's Soccer Schedule & Season Highlights
- ASUN teams have nine games against eight teams that made it to the NCAA Tournament in 2017: Jacksonville vs. Vanderbilt, North Alabama at Vanderbilt, Kennesaw at Auburn (exh.), North Florida vs UCF (exh.), NJIT at Monmouth, NJIT at Stony Brook, Liberty at Virginia, Liberty at Clemson and Stetson at South Florida (exh.).
- 2017 ASUN Goalkeeper of The Year Melissa Weck returns for FGCU and Freshman of The Year Thais Reiss enters her second season with North Florida.
- Ten members of the ASUN All-Conference teams return and 10 honorees also return from the All-Freshmen team.