West Virginia University Director of Athletics Oliver Luck has released the schedule for the upcoming 2012 men's soccer season. The slate is highlighted by 10 home matches at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium and the inaugural season of competition in the Mid-American Conference.
"Coach LeBlanc has made it a priority to continually schedule one of the toughest men's soccer schedules in the nation," Director of Athletics Oliver Luck says. "As we enter into the Mid-American Conference, the 2012 season is no different as we face new top-tier opponents, including three of the last five national champions."
The schedule consists of games against four national champions, the last two national champions and three of the last five national champions. Six opponents were in the field of 48 for the 2011 NCAA tournament, four opponents are defending conference champions and three opponents were in the Top 25 of the final 2011 NCAA RPI. The slate also features games against nine different conferences.
"We are excited about the 2012 season and feel that this schedule will provide the necessary challenges to make a deep run in postseason play," coach Marlon Leblanc says. "Not only are we excited to play three of the last five national champions, but also to begin play in the competitive Mid-American Conference."
After a rare occurrence of opening the season on the road in 2011, WVU will return home for the start of the 2012 season. The season opener will be against Hartford on Aug. 25, followed by a match against Stetson on Aug. 27.
Over a seven-day span, WVU will travel to the home sites on North Carolina (Aug. 31), Wake Forest (Sept. 2) and Penn State (Sept. 6) in what will likely be the toughest road trip of the season. North Carolina won the 2011 NCAA College Cup, while Wake Forest earned an at-large bid to the 2011 NCAA tournament.
The Mountaineers return home to play non-conference matches against Oakland on Sept. 9 and American on Sept. 15, before opening the MAC season with a home match against Florida Atlantic on Sept. 23.
The four-game home stand is completed on Sept. 26, when the Mountaineers host Iona in a non-conference match.
West Virginia hits the road for one game against Western Michigan on Sept. 29, before coming home for a non-conference game against 2011 NCAA qualifier Elon (Oct. 2). Five days later, MAC matches will resume with home games against Buffalo (Oct. 7) and Hartwick (Oct. 14).
The Mountaineers travel to 2011 NCAA participants Akron on Oct. 20 and Northern Illinois on Oct. 27, before returning home for the final home game and non-conference game of the season against Stony Brook (Oct. 30). The Seawolves earned the America East's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament last season.
WVU completes the fall season on the road with a conference match at Bowling Green on Nov. 3.
The MAC Tournament will be held from Nov. 9-11, at the site of the league's top seed, while the NCAA College Cup will take place from Dec. 7-9, at Regions Park, in Hoover, Ala.
West Virginia finished the 2011 season with an 11-8-1 record, 6-3 in conference play. The Mountaineers advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament for the second-consecutive season. WVU returns 14 student-athletes and will welcome 11 newcomers.