MARTIN, Tenn. – Coming off back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time in program history, The University of Tennessee at Martin soccer head coach Phil McNamara has announced his team’s schedule for the fall campaign.
Fresh off a 13-6-3 mark, school-record .659 winning percentage and the program’s first-ever outright Ohio Valley Conference regular season title in 2012, the Skyhawks return 16 players from a squad who took Southeastern Conference powerhouse Kentucky into overtime in last year’s NCAA Tournament. Included amongst that group is 2012 All-OVC performers Ashley Reveiz, Hannah McGowen, Mariah Klenke and Alyssa Curtis.
“We are really excited about the fall schedule,” said McNamara, who captured 2012 OVC Coach of the Year accolades. “It offers a remarkable challenge including many different opponents compared to years past. We also have a few first-time opponents which will hopefully encourage a positive build-up to the games.”
UT Martin will open its season with an Aug. 16 exhibition at Western Kentucky. The Skyhawks then officially begin 2013 with a highly-anticipated match against Oklahoma State under the lights on Friday, Aug. 23. UT Martin then returns to action at Skyhawk Field two days later with a matchup against in-state rival Middle Tennessee.
The Skyhawks then hit the road for eight of their next nine contests, traveling to Evansville (Aug. 30) and Lipscomb (Sept. 2) before taking part in a tournament hosted by the University of Denver on Sept. 6-8. While in the Centennial State, UT Martin will battle host Denver on Sept. 6 and Pac-12 Conference member Colorado on Sept. 8.
A home match against Georgia State on Sept. 13 then follows before UT Martin travels to Indiana State (Sept. 15) and Saint Louis (Sept. 20). OVC play begins with a two-match road swing through Austin Peay on Sept. 27 and Murray State on Sept. 29.
UT Martin’s OVC home opener will take place on Oct. 4 against Jacksonville State. This match – which takes place on the Friday of Homecoming weekend – will also kick off Alumni Weekend for former Skyhawk soccer players.
The Skyhawks then play three straight OVC road matches (at Morehead State on Oct. 11, at Eastern Kentucky on Oct. 13, at Tennessee Tech on Oct. 18).
UT Martin concludes the regular season with four consecutive home matches against OVC foes. The Skyhawks host Belmont on Oct. 20 before welcoming Eastern Illinois and SIU Edwardsville into town to close out October. UT Martin rounds out the regular season with a Nov. 1 showdown against Southeast Missouri, pitting together the league’s past two regular-season champions.
“We only lost one game last year at home in the season-opener and that success at home will need to continue if we are to enjoy a successful season,” McNamara said. “I think a key factor in our success has been our lack of fear of losing games in the nonconference season. We look to learn and improve game-by-game before the added pressure that conference games offer.”
The OVC Tournament is slated for Nov. 7-10. Once again, the league’s regular season champion will host the postseason event. The Skyhawks will look to advance to its third straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
“No question this is a very brave schedule and borderline excessive,” McNamara said. “The program’s recent success of back-to-back NCAA Tournaments have encouraged the above caliber of opponents and raised the need to improve the schedule in order to challenge our players. The incoming class is very talented but as we know from experience, titles are usually won or lost depending on the quality of your returners. We have an outstanding challenge this fall and we look forward to it.”