ASHEVILLE, N.C. - The UNC Asheville men's soccer team opens the 2012 season on Saturday when the Bulldogs host Brevard College at Greenwood Field starting at 2 p.m.
Both teams hope to be better in 2012. Asheville finished with a frustrating 4-12-3 overall record in 2011, while the Tornados had a 3-13-1 worksheet.
The Bulldogs played two exhibition matches and lost them both but showed a lot of improvement from the first to the second match. On Aug. 15, Asheville lost at Elon, 5-0. The Dogs gave up all five goals after halftime. Last Saturday, the Bulldogs fell to Davidson at home, 3-2. Asheville led 2-1 before conceding two late goals, allowing the Wildcats to escape with a victory.
"We played much better against Davidson than we did at Elon," commented third-year coach Matt Kern. "And in the Elon match, we held them scoreless for the first half before the floodgates opened in the second half. There's still plenty of work to do but I think our fans are going to enjoy watching the style of soccer we play this season."
Asheville returns six starters and 12 letter-winners to this year's club. The Bulldogs have added nine newcomers to the roster and all of them have the potential to make an impact on this year's club.
"We have a lot of new guys on our team this season, and they're blending in well with our returnees," stated Kern. "We graduated a lot of experience from last season, but we're very excited about the team we have this year and what we have the potential to accomplish."
This marks the fourth consecutive year the teams have played here at Greenwood Field. Asheville has won all three meetings by 3-0 scores. Kern expects a tough match with Brevard.
"Brevard is very well-coached, and they know what they're doing," declared Kern. "I know we've won the last three matches but all have been much closer than what the final score turned out to be. Our guys better be ready to play hard for 90 minutes."
Friday's match starts a stretch of five straight home games for the Bulldogs. Asheville is back at home Monday afternoon vs. USC Upstate (3 p.m.) and then hosts Appalachian State (Aug. 30), UNC Greensboro (Sept. 2) and Big South Conference newcomer Longwood (Sept. 9).
"We're delighted to be at home so much during the early part of the year," explained Kern. "We're hopeful that these home games will give us some confidence as we go forward during the season."
- 1. UNC Asheville starts the season with five consecutive home matches and will play nine in 2012. The Bulldogs played just six home matches all of last season.
- 2. Asheville will not play a true road match until Sept. 22 when the Bulldogs travel to High Point. Kern's club plays two neutral matches at the Radford Invitational on Sept. 14 and Sept. 16. They'll play Marshall on Sept. 14 and Marist on Sept. 16.
- 3. Asheville scored 21 goals in 2011, 16 by players who have graduated.