Men’s Soccer Releases 2011 Schedule
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MACON, Ga. – Eight top-100 RPI teams and three 2010 NCAA Tournament participants highlight an elite 2011 Mercer men's soccer schedule as released by head coach Brad Ruzzo on Friday morning.
Mercer returns eight starters from a 2010 squad that went 10-6-1, its first 10-win season since 2004, while posting top-60 national rankings in scoring offense (55th), shutout percentage (44th) and win-loss-tie percentage (48th).
The Bears 2011 slate consists of 10 home matches, including Conference USA power University of Alabama-Birmingham and 2010 NCAA Tournament qualifiers University of Central Florida and East Tennessee St. University.
Mercer opens the season with a pair of exhibition games, hosting Campbell on Aug. 15 before traveling to College of Charleston, also a 2010 NCAA Tournament participant, on Aug. 20 to wrap up exhibition play.
The Orange and Black stay on the road for their 2011 regular season opener, traveling to Asheville, N.C. to take on UNC-Asheville on August 27. Mercer then returns to Bear Field on Sept. 1, for its 2011 home opener against UAB. The Bears downed the then No. 29 ranked Blazers 1-0, in Birmingham, last season for their first-ever victory over a nationally ranked team.
Following a home match against SoCon member Appalachian State on Sept. 4, and playing at in-state rival Georgia State on Sept. 9, the Bears begin a three-game home stand starting with a huge match-up against Conference USA member UCF on Sept. 11. UCF finished 2010 with a 12-5-3 record and advanced to the second round of the 2010 NCAA Tournament. The Orange and Black conclude their three-game home stand with tilts against VMI on Sept. 16 and Georgia Southern on Sept. 18.
After traveling to Nebraska for its first-ever meeting against Nebraska-Omaha on Sept. 24, Mercer begins its quest for the programs' first Atlantic Sun Championship since 2001 when it begins conference play with a pair of home games. The Bears square off against North Florida on Sept. 29 and Jacksonville on Oct. 2. Mercer looks to exact revenge against Jacksonville after dropping a 2-1 decision to the Dolphins in the first round of the 2010 A-Sun Championship.
Consecutive away contests follow, as Mercer travels to Florida Gulf Coast on Oct. 7, before continuing league play at Stetson on Oct. 9. The Eagles and Hatters each finished 2010 with at least 10 wins and RPI's in the top-80.
The Bears return to Macon for three-straight contests in mid-October, first hosting non-conference foe Central Arkansas on Oct. 15, before entertaining USC Upstate on Oct. 19 and defending A-Sun Conference Champion East Tennessee St. on Oct. 22. ETSU made its first-ever NCAA Tournament trip last season after piling up 15 wins and ranking 38th in the RPI.
A-Sun regular-season play winds down with road trips to Lipscomb on Oct. 27 and Belmont on Oct. 30 before heading to Durham, N.C. for a showdown with national power Duke on Nov. 5 to close out the 2011 campaign. Duke earned its seventh consecutive NCAA Tournament berth last season and concluded its 2010 campaign with a 10-6-4 record and a number 26 ranking in the RPI.
The 2011 A-Sun Conference Championship will be hosted by ETSU at Summers-Taylor Stadium on Nov. 9-13.