Bearcats Open 2014 Season on the Road

Aug. 21, 2014

The University of Cincinnati women's soccer team opens the 2014 season this weekend with a pair of matches against Southern schools. The Bearcats season opener is Friday, Aug. 22 at 8 p.m. ET in Birmingham, Alabama against Samford. UC then travels to Starkville, Mississippi for a 12:30 p.m. ET kickoff versus Mississippi State.

Friday night's matchup with the Bulldogs will not have a live video stream, but you can follow along through live stats. Sunday's match, which is against the Bulldogs of MSU, will be broadcast on the SEC Network Plus, which can be viewed on WatchESPN if your cable/satellite provider carries the SEC Network. Contact your cable provider if you are unsure if the SEC Network is part of your package.

Neil Stafford begins his second season as the Bearcats head coach this fall. Last season, he guided Cincinnati to an 8-11-1 record, which is a four win improvement from the 2012 season. It was just the fourth time in the last 10 seasons that UC tallied eight or more wins in a season and only the second time to achieve four or more league wins.

Cincinnati was voted to finish sixth in the American Athletic Conference Preseason Poll after taking sixth last season with a 4-4-1 league record. Atop the league poll is the defending champion UCF, who went 8-0-1 last fall and received all but one first-place vote. The Bearcats halted UCF's perfect league record last year by recording a 1-1 draw against the Knights. Memphis (3rd) and USF (4th) are also picked ahead of UC despite the Bearcats defeating both schools last season.

The Bearcats return eight starters from last year's squad, including its top three scorers in Jae Atkinson, Katy Couperus and Emily Elsbrock. Last season, Elsbrock was named Second Team All-American Athletic Conference and Couperus was listed on the All-Rookie Team. Natalie Smith returns in net for Cincinnati after also being named to the All-Rookie Team.

Coach Stafford adds 16 players to the roster this fall with 13 being freshmen and the other three transferring in. All three transfers (Michelle Brownlee - Central Michigan; Devyn Ciotti - Louisville; Taylor Jackson - Miami (Ohio)) along with the incoming freshmen are expected to impact the Bearcats immediately this season.

For the third consecutive season, the Bearcats open up the season on the road. The squad has a three-game road trip against Samford, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt before their home opener on Sunday, Aug. 31 versus UC Santa Barbara. The match versus the Gauchos starts a three-game homestand for UC.

The 2014 season marks the 35th year of UC women's soccer as a varsity sport. The program began in 1980 and is the second-oldest in Ohio to Denison University. Cincinnati has an overall win-loss record of 334-254-47.

Season tickets for 2014 can be purchased for as little $10 ($1.25 per match). For more information, visit or call 1-877-CATS-TIX. Keep up with the UC women's soccer team @UCWomensSoccer.