ASHEVILLE, N.C. - The UNC Asheville women's soccer team opens Big South Conference play with a pair of road games in the state of Virginia. The Bulldogs play at league newcomer Longwood Thursday night at 7 p.m., followed by a match at Liberty Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m.


Asheville (2-6-0) is coming off a tough 4-2 loss to Appalachian State last Friday afternoon at Greenwood Field. The Bulldogs face two tough challenges in the matches. Longwood is 5-3-0 and the season. Liberty has a 6-3-0 worksheet.


Michelle Demko's club faced a tough non-conference schedule and the third-year coach is hoping that will pay off once league play starts.


"As we enter conference play, we are playing some of our best soccer to date," explained Demko. "I hope our non conference schedule will prepare us for success with this half of our schedule. Longwood is new to the conference, so this is the first match up between both of us. Both schools will want to establish themselves early and fight for the first win of conference play. I am looking forward to conference play to see the progress we have made thus far."


Asheville has played the Lancers twice and has lost both matches. The Bulldogs have not beaten Liberty in regulation play since the 2004 season.


Sophomore Kaitlyn Eckert leads Asheville in scoring with four goals, three assists and 11 points. Freshman Paige Trent has four goals, one assist and nine points. Sophomore goalkeeper Heather Muller has 53 saves on the season.


The Bulldogs return home next Thursday (Sept. 27) when they host VMI at Greenwood Field starting at 3 p.m.