Men's Soccer Schedule Set; Slate Includes Last Two National Runners-Up
The 2012 Florida Southern men’s soccer schedule has been finalized, with the Moccasins slated to open the season at home on Thursday, August 30, followed by eight more games in September and seven in October. The schedule features seven home games, eight road games and one neutral site game, as well as six games against NCAA Tournament teams from last year. The first of those NCAA playoff teams will be the first team Florida Southern plays when Coker College visits Barnett Field for the 2012 season opener.
The defending champions of Conference Carolinas, Coker went 18-3 last year when it also finished the regular season ranked #5 in the country and earned the top seed in the NCAA Southeast Region Tournament. The Cobras saw their season end, however, with a 2-1 upset loss to Mars Hill in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. They’ll provide a stern opening night test for the Moccasins with 10 returning starters.
After starting the season at home for the first time in four years, the Moccasins will be on the road for their next four games, beginning with a September 4 match against 2011 Florida Sun Conference co-champion St. Thomas. The Bobcats are the only NAIA team on the schedule this year and suffered one of their defeats last year to the Moccasins in Lakeland.
The Mocs then travel to Pensacola for a pair of weekend games on Friday, September 7, and Sunday, September 9. The first of those will be against NCAA Division II newcomer Young Harris College (GA). The Mountain Lions are in their first year as members of the Peach Belt Conference after going 10-6-1 last year in their first season as a provisional Division II program.
Following that game, the Mocs will face West Florida on Sunday, with the Argonauts coming off a 9-6-3 season that saw them finish as Gulf South Conference runners-up. The Argos have been the Mocs’ most common non-conference opponent over the last two decades, and they’ll renew a rivalry that saw a 2-2 draw in Pensacola two years ago, and a 4-3 win by West Florida in Lakeland last season.
Florida Southern’s 12 remaining regular season games will all be against Sunshine State Conference schools, though only one game against each team will count toward the conference standings. In a new scheduling format adopted this year, each school will play four additional non-conference games against SSC schools in addition to the normal 8-game conference schedule featuring one game against every team in the league. Under the new format, Florida Southern will face Nova Southeastern, Rollins, Lynn, and Eckerd twice this year.
The Moccasins will start that 12-game stretch with non-conference games at Nova Southeastern (Sept. 12), and at home against Rollins (Sept. 19) and Lynn (Sept. 22). They’ll get a quick re-match with Nova at home on Wednesday, September 26, which will mark the Mocs’ first SSC game of the season. They’ll end September with a September 29 match at Florida Tech.
The month of October will see Florida Southern host conference games against Saint Leo (Oct. 3), Eckerd (Oct. 13) and Tampa (Oct. 20), and play conference road games at Lynn (Oct. 6), at Barry (Oct. 16) and at Rollins (Oct. 27). They’ll also travel to Eckerd for their final non-conference match on October 23. The October 27th date with Rollins in Winter Park brings the regular season to a close.
With the Sunshine State Conference among the top Division II leagues in the country, Florida Southern will be playing two games against a Lynn squad that finished as national runner-up in 2011, and two games against a Rollins team that was the national runner-up in 2010. Lynn won last year’s SSC regular season title and finished 14-5-3 overall, while Rollins won the SSC Tournament title and finished 15-4. Barry was a strong 4th-place team in the conference with a 12-3-6 record, and joined Lynn and Rollins in the NCAA playoffs. Over the last two seasons, Florida Southern has defeated all three of those teams at least once when they were all ranked in the national top-20 poll.
Meanwhile, Florida Tech (last year’s SSC regular season runner-up), Saint Leo, and Eckerd all won nine games apiece last year, giving Florida Southern 12 games against teams with at least nine wins in 2011.
After the regular season ends on October 27, the SSC Tournament gets underway on Tuesday, October 30 at campus sites, with the semifinals and championship game scheduled for November 2 and 4. The top six teams in the regular season standings qualify for the SSC Tournament, with the top two seeds earning first-round byes. The regular season champion hosts the semifinals and final.
The NCAA Tournament begins on Friday, November 9, and the national semifinals and championship game are scheduled for November 29 and December 1. The Peach Belt Conference will serve as host for this year’s championship in Evans, Georgia.