April 20, 2012
Printable Schedule | Online Schedule
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - The Missouri State men's soccer team, under the direction of 21st-year head coach Jon Leamy, announced its 2012 schedule Friday (April 20).
Highlighting the Bears' 17-match regular-season slate are five games against 2011 NCAA Tournament teams and matchups with eight teams from last year's final Men's Soccer RPI Top 100.
Missouri State will host just five home games at Plaster Field this fall, and will play in tournaments at Central Arkansas, Dayton and New Mexico.
The Bears will kick off the regular season with a match at Plaster Field before playing eight consecutive games on the road. The Bears' home opener will be on Aug. 24, when they welcome Belmont, a team MSU lost to in a heartbreaker in last year's home opener.
"It will be tough, but hopefully it seasons us and makes us a lot tougher," Leamy commented. "We don't want to get road weary and sometimes you worry about wearing the guys out with the travel, being away from school and getting in at 3 or 4 in the morning. We have to train smart and see how fresh we can keep this team to perform well during the season."
On Aug. 28, Missouri State will take a mid-week trip to UMKC. After their match with the Roos, the Bears will participate in the University of Central Arkansas Tournament, Aug. 31-Sept. 2. Their first opponent will be Oral Roberts (Aug. 31), a team that MSU beat 6-1 in 2011, followed by the first-ever meeting with Lipscomb (Sept. 2).
The next weekend, Missouri State resumes tournament play in Dayton, Ohio with matches against Eastern Illinois and Green Bay on Sept. 7 and 9, respectively. Green Bay (No. 65) is one of the eight squads in the top 100 of the final RPI rankings.
Rounding out tournament action, the Bears will return to University of New Mexico's annual invitational, Sept. 14-16. Leamy's group will open the tournament with No. 13 UC Irvine (Sept. 14). The Anteaters received a No. 8 seed for the 2011 NCAA Tournament, but lost their only match in the second round to Saint Mary's. Missouri State then plays its first meeting with Ivy League opponent Dartmouth (Sept. 16).
"We're going to have to treat the neutral games as home games," Leamy said of the three tournaments Missouri State will be playing in. "They may not be the greatest crowds or environments, but we have to go in there and play like it's our home field. Those are games that you don't want to drop."
In the final game of September, the Bears will venture to Cincinnati for a contest against Xavier on Sept. 22. The matchup with the Muskateers is the first of three straight games against opponents that finished in the top 50 of the RPI. Xavier also received a bid to the NCAA Tournament, losing to West Virginia in the first round.
As the calendar turns to October, the Bears return to Springfield for a three-game homestand beginning with Memphis on Oct. 3. Missouri State will look to avenge a 2011 loss to the Tigers, who were 46th in the RPI.
"We will bunker in a little bit and it will be unbelievable having three straight games at home, but then right after that you go four more away," Leamy added. "That is going to be a monstrous stretch for us."
The Bears will have a tough test in their Missouri Valley Conference opener against Bradley (Oct. 6). The Braves finished the season ranked No. 25 in the NSCAA Coaches' Poll and No. 28 in the RPI after getting a first-round win in the NCAA Tournament. They were ousted from the Tournament in the second round by No. 12-seed Louisville.
Missouri State will conclude its homestand welcoming Evansville to Plaster Field on Oct. 10. The Bears have won three straight against the Purple Aces.
The Bears hit the road for a four-game swing starting Oct. 13 against SIU Edwardsville. They are looking for their second win in as many tries against SIUE after entering last season's contest with an all-time record of 0-8-1 versus the Cougars.
Next on the slate is a return trip to Conway, Ark. to play Central Arkansas on Oct. 17, followed by a Sunday night showdown with SMU on Oct. 21. The 19th-ranked Mustangs, played one of the tougher schedules in the nation and finished the season ranked 10th in the RPI.
In the final weekend of the four-game road trip, MSU travels to Omaha, Neb., for a battle with Creighton (Oct. 27). The Bears split the series in 2011, winning its first-ever game over a top-five opponent in the regular season, 1-0, and then falling short in the MVC Tournament final. Last season, Creighton was a perfect 14-0 when playing at Robert J. Morrison Stadium. In addition to making it all the way to the NCAA Tournament semifinals, four of the Jays' players were selected in the Major League Soccer (MLS) SuperDraft in January.
Finishing out the Bears' regular-season calendar is a home match with Drake on Nov. 2. The Bulldogs are winless in their last six attempts, with their last victory coming in 2008 against Missouri State.
The Bears will play three exhibition games to gear up for the regular season including a pair of away matches at Tulsa (Aug. 14) and SIU Edwardsville (Aug. 17) followed by a home contest with Southwest Baptist (Mo.), who just reinstated its NCAA DII men's soccer program (Aug. 20).