WASHINGTON, DC – The University of the District of Columbia men's soccer team will open its 2012 regular season schedule by competing in the Shippensburg Tournament on August 31st and September 2nd, it has been announced by 2nd year head coach Matthew L. Thompson. This season marks the Firebirds' inaugural season as members of the East Coast Conference and the schedule includes nine conference games.
"The ECC is one of the toughest conferences in the nation with three teams earning NCAA Tournament bids last season. The first year is certainly going to be a challenge, but we're definitely looking forward to it," Thompson said. "In fact, it's going to be fun traveling to New York for the away games."
According to Thompson, the Firebirds will also have their hands full when they play the non-conference portion of their schedule this fall. A former coach at Slippery Rock University, Thompson loaded up on four Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference schools, all of which earned NCAA Tournament bids a year ago. Among those PSAC opponents is Millersville, who advanced to the NCAA Final Four last season.
The Firebirds kick off the 2012 season with a 5:30 p.m. neutral site game against the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown on Friday, August 31st, and then take on Chestnut Hill College on Sunday, September 2nd at 3:30 p.m. Both games will be hosted by Shippensburg at David See Field at Robb Sports Complex. District of Columbia won both its games when it opened the season at this tournament a year ago, as Thompson started his reign at UDC with two wins, en-route to a 8-5-4 record in 2011.
District of Columbia then hosts back-to-back home games on September 5th and 7th versus two PSAC schools, Shippensburg and Mercyhurst. Both of those games are slated for 4 p.m. starts.
On September 11th the Firebirds travel to Philadelphia for a 4 p.m. tilt with the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference's Holy Family University. Thompson and the Firebirds were 3-0 versus the CACC last season, including wins over Goldey-Beacom, Felician and Chestnut Hill.
The Firebirds then open their inaugural season of ECC conference play as they host LIU-Post (formerly CW Post) on September 15th at 3 p.m. LIU-Post captured the ECC Regular Season Championship and advanced to the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament last year. Then it is back on the road to face non-conference foe Millersville under the lights on September 17th at 7 p.m. before hosting two ECC contests versus conference tournament semifinalist Bridgeport ( September 23rd, 3 p.m.) and Dowling (September 29th, 12 p.m.).
Two ECC road games follow at NYIT (October 3rd, 4 p.m.) and Queens (October 6th, 1 p.m.) and then District of Columbia hosts another CACC opponent, Concordia on October 10th at 4 p.m. Following the Concordia game, UDC plays back-to-back games in Westchester County against Mercy (October 13th, 3 p.m.) and St. Thomas Aquinas (October 17th, 2:30 p.m) before returning home to host Molloy for Senior Day on Saturday, October 20th at 3 p.m.
District of Columbia will then play two final non-conference games against PSAC member California (PA) and its fourth and final CACC member, Felician, on October 23rd and October 26th, respectively. The Firebirds will wrap up the regular season on October 28th when they visit fellow new ECC member Roberts Wesleyan in Rochester, NY.
The ECC Men's Soccer Tournament will be hosted by the highest seed throughout. The semifinals will be played on November 1st and the finals will be on November 3rd.