Washington, DC - The University of the District of Columbia Men's Soccer program has announced its 2011 schedule. The season officially begins Friday, September 2nd, when the Firebirds travel to a tournament at Shippensburg University where they will take on Felician College and Goldey Beacom College over a three day span. The schedule includes 19 contests against some of the stronger teams in the East Region, including Shippensburg University, PSAC Tournament Champions and NCAA Tournament participant, and the University of Charleston, WVIAC Tournament Champions and 2010 NCAA Championship Sweet Sixteen participant.
The Firebirds will participate in three preseason scrimmages to tune up for the regular season. The preseason schedule gets underway on August 21st, when the Firebirds take on Slippery Rock University in Slippery Rock, PA, followed by an August 23rd contest against Prince George's Community College in Largo, MD. They closeout the pre-season against future East Coast Conference foe NYIT on August 27th, in Old Westbury, NY.
The schedule features nine home games and nine away games. In addition to the preseason scrimmage against NYIT, the Firebirds have three additional road games against future ECC foes in Queens College (September 18th), Mercy College (September 28th), and St. Thomas Aquinas (October 27th). The UDC Athletic Department joined the East Coast Conference (ECC) effective July 1, 2011, and this season marks the last for the men's soccer program as an independent. The Firebirds will compete in a full ECC schedule in the 2012 season.
UDC is coming off a disappointing 4-13-1 season in 2010, but the program is ripe with optimism under new Head Coach, Matthew L. Thompson. Thompson took over the helm of the Firebirds as head coach in June of 2011. Thompson came to UDC from Lees McRae College, where he led the Bobcats to a 13-5-3 record, winning the 2010 Conference Carolinas Regular Season and Conference Tournament Championships as well as earning a 2010 NCAA Championship berth.
The Firebirds will be led by 9 returning players including Adriel Garcia (Brazil), Tansu Korkmaz (Turkey), and Nana Bamfo (Ghana). Many new faces have arrived at UDC under Coach Thompson, and there will inevitably be increased competition at all positions.
The coaching staff fully expects to bring a united, disciplined work ethic to the program with a winning mentality. Coach Thompson's expectations for the season are summed up in the following statement, "We aim to put all the ingredients in place upon our entrance to the East Coast Conference in 2012. We are careful to avoid the words, 'transitional year' but are realistic if not cautiously optimistic." Thompson continued, "At relatively short notice, we have compiled a squad to compete with all teams in the region. We have made 3 or 4 quality additions and hope others will prove to be diamonds in the rough. We hope to build a culture within the program which highlights professionalism, discipline, and a passion for the game. We are confident that we can achieve our goal of turning UDC into a program that will be respected both regionally and nationally in the near future!"