Challenging Slate Awaits Men's Soccer|
May 22, 2014
CINCINNATI - The University of Cincinnati is set to take on a trio of teams that reached the NCAA Tournament last season as part of a 17-game schedule for 2014. The Bearcats will play seven home matches, as well as an eight-game American Athletic Conference slate in the league's sophomore season.
"It's a really challenging schedule, but I am confident our team is up for the task," said head coach Hylton Dayes, who enters his 14th season at the helm of the program this fall. "The non-conference schedule is very tough and should prepare us for the conference. Our goal is to be among the top teams in the league. That will not be easy because the league is very strong."
Before the regular season gets underway, the Bearcats will play a pair of exhibition matches to prepare for the year. Cincinnati State will visit Gettler Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 16, before UC travels to Evansville, Indiana, for a friendly with the Purple Aces on Friday, Aug. 22.
The regular season will kick-off at Northern Kentucky on Friday, Aug. 29, followed by visit from Dayes' alma mater, Wright State, in the home opener on Monday, Sept. 1. That will be followed by four-straight road matches, first with a pair in Omaha, Nebraska. The Bearcats visit Nebraska Omaha on Friday, Sept. 5, before staying in town to take on 2013 NCAA Tournament participant Creighton on Sunday, Sept. 7. The road swing concludes with a visit to crosstown-rival Xavier on Saturday, Sept. 13, and a trip to IPFW on Wednesday, Sept. 17.
"There many quality teams locally and throughout Ohio," Dayes explains. "We feel it is important for us to develop relationships with and play these teams - NKU, Wright State, Xavier and Cleveland State. It also allows us to develop good rivalries."
UC returns to the friendly confines of Gettler Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 21, to host Eastern Illinois. Cleveland State will then visit on Wednesday, Sept. 24, for the final match before the start of American Athletic Conference play. The Eastern Illinois match will be part of a doubleheader with the women's soccer team facing Syracuse at Noon prior to the men's match at 3:00 p.m. Both matches take place the day after the football team faces Miami (Ohio) for the University's annual homecoming contest (Saturday, Sept. 20 at Paul Brown Stadium).
"We are really hoping our fans will come out and support us homecoming weekend," Dayes said. "We are hoping to have our alumni back and it's going to be a great weekend to be a Bearcat."
League action opens with a trip to Temple on Saturday, Sept. 27, followed by a visit to league newcomer Tulsa on Saturday, Oct. 4. The Golden Hurricane enter The American with a strong resume that includes seven Conference USA championships and eight NCAA Tournament bids, seven in the past 14 seasons. The home league schedule starts with a bang, as both of the league's 2013 NCAA Tournament teams visit in the same week. UConn, a national quarterfinalist last season, visits on Wednesday, Oct. 8, before USF visits on Saturday, Oct. 11.
"With our first two conference games on the road, we will be tested early, but in order for us to do well in the league, we're going to have to win on the road," said Dayes. "Then it doesn't get any easier with UConn and USF coming into Gettler Stadium. We've played really well against those teams at home in the past and we hope that continues."
The Bearcats play a final non-conference match on Wednesday, Oct. 15, when they visit IUPUI. At Gettler Stadium last year, the Bearcats found the back of the net as time expired to take a hard-fought 2-1 decision over the Jaguars. Dayes knows IUPUI will be ready for UC.
"I'm sure they will remember last year's game and be ready for us," Dayes said. "It's a mid-week game, sandwiched between conference games, so we're really going to have to focus. I know our guys aren't going to take them lightly because, obviously, it took us until the 90th minute to get the win (last season)."
Cincinnati returns to league play for good on Saturday, Oct. 18, when Temple visits for a rematch. UC will play two of the final three matches on the road, traveling to Memphis on Wednesday, Oct. 22, before hosting UCF on Saturday, Oct. 25 and playing at SMU on Saturday, Nov. 1.
"Memphis and UCF beat us last year so we know they are quality teams," Dayes said. "Then we finish up with SMU and hopefully we are both playing for position in the league and that game is going to mean something at the end of the season."
The 2014 American Athletic Conference Tournament will open with all eight teams playing in the quarterfinals on Saturday, Nov. 8. The top four teams in the regular-season table will host the quarterfinals before the semifinals and final are played in Storrs, Connecticut, on Friday and Sunday, Nov. 14 and 16. The NCAA Tournament will open with first round games on Thursday, Nov. 20., culminating in the College Cup to be played in Cary, N.C., Friday and Sunday, Dec. 12 and 14.
"I think we will be a much improved team from last year," Dayes concluded. "We will surprise some teams in our league."