ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The UNC Asheville men’s soccer team will begin their preparations for the 2014 season this Monday when the Bulldogs practice for the first time.


Matt Kern’s club welcomes back six starters and 16 letterwinners from last year’s club that won five games, including a 1-0 upset win over sixth-ranked Coastal Carolina.


Kern is upbeat about his fifth Bulldog team.


“We are really looking forward to getting started with pre-season on Monday.  I fully expect the group to be fit, focused, and committed,” remarked Kern.


"The team made some strides last season with more possession than in past years, and we hope to continue that trend,” added Kern. “The team fitness level and speed has improved which should also allow us to be more effective on the counter attack.


"The team members embrace a lot of the same values both on and off the field,” he said “We are a very close group, trust one another, and want to see each other succeed." 


The Bulldogs open the regular season at the end of the month but will challenge themselves with three tough exhibition matches, all in Asheville. Kern’s club faces Appalachian State at Carolina Day on Friday, Aug. 15 at 1 p.m. 


They are scheduled to host Charlotte on Aug. 20 and ACC foe Clemson on Aug. 23 at Greenwood Field. Both the 49ers and Tigers were in the NCAA Tournament last season.


“Our exhibition slate with Appalachian State, Charlotte, and Clemson will be extremely difficult,” admitted Kern. “The idea is to test ourselves against three very athletic and organized teams in order to prepare the boys for the regular season."