Aug. 23, 2012
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - The Missouri State men's soccer team is set to open its 32nd regular season on Friday (Aug. 24) with a home match against Belmont at 8 p.m. This marks the second straight season that the Bears' home opener involves the Bruins of Nashville, Tenn.
In 2011, Missouri State dropped a heartbreaker to Belmont, allowing the Bruins back-to-back headers towards net and a game-winning goal with just 17 seconds remaining. Belmont finished their season with an overall record of 7-9-2.
Despite the early struggles, the men's soccer program is fresh off of capturing a share of the 2011 MVC regular-season title with a 5-1 mark in league play. The Bears also got their first-ever win over an opponent ranked in the top five, when they upset then-No. 4 Creighton, 1-0, at Plaster Field on Oct. 12.
In this year's MVC Preseason Coaches' Poll, the Bears were picked to finish second behind reigning conference champion Bluejays. Also announced on Aug. 14 was the 2012 Preseason All-MVC team which featured Missouri state sophomore defender Andrew Turner. After missing the first three matches of his freshman season, Turner played the center back position in the remaining 16 games and led all freshmen with 14 starts. The 2011 MVC All-Freshman team selection was a key contributor on the Bears' defensive unit that limited opponents to just 10 goals in its final 15 matches.
Preparing for another successful season, Missouri State head coach Jon Leamy and his staff laid down the groundwork with three exhibition matches this August.
"You know, it was a really good preseason for us because we got to play two away games and a home game, while getting to see some different surfaces," said 21st-year head coach Jon Leamy. "Those are just little things, but because it's a new team, it was real important for our new players to get accustomed to what it's like at the collegiate level."
Since the inception of the program in 1981, the Bears are an impressive 22-7-2 in home openers and 14-15-2 overall in season openers. Missouri State is 0-4-0 in its last four season openers and will look to break the dry spell.
Leamy had this to say on what to expect from his squad: "If you look at our last week of preparation, we've really spent a lot of time on our defending. Hopefully we come out there and look organized with players in good shape. The attack is going to come and usually it takes a bit longer, but we feel like right now we are prepared to really go into that first game with some set pieces. We're looking forward to it and the guys are really excited to be at home tomorrow night."
Following the home opener, the Bears will travel to Kansas City, Mo. to take on UMKC Tuesday (Aug. 28) at 7:00 p.m.