BUIES CREEK, N.C. – Home dates with NC State and North Carolina and five opponents that advanced to last year's NCAA College Cup highlight the 2013 Campbell University men's soccer schedule.
Coming off 12-5-2 campaign in 2012 and a final South Atlantic Region ranking, Campbell will face 10 Big South Conference opponents, two of which advanced to NCAA post-season competition.
"With every given year challenges come to every program," said Steve Armas, who is entering his fourth year as head coach. "In order to prepare for Big South conference play and to position our team for success at the end of year, scheduling becomes ever so important. Our goal every year is to create a schedule that will challenge our players and help us improve throughout the season. We talk about establishing our program within the state, regionally, and nationally. Playing a difficult schedule allows us the opportunity to test our boundaries and measure where we are as a program."
In preparation for the regular season slate, Campbell will host 2012 NCAA College Cup participant Wake Forest in a pre-season match on Aug. 17. CU also travels to George Mason for an Aug. 24 exhibition.
Campbell opens the regular season at home on the Friday before Labor Day (Aug. 30) with a 7:00 p.m. kick-off against North Carolina State. The Wolfpack finished the 2012 campaign with a 10-10 overall record and has dropped two-straight games to the Camels.
Last year at Raleigh, Campbell defeated the 17th-ranked Pack 2-0 behind goals from Bryce Miller and Ricki Gaez. In State's last trip to Buies Creek during the 2011 campaign, Ben Iiames' golden goal in the 91st minute provided the winning margin for CU.
Campbell has faced at least one ACC school in each of the last 20 seasons, posting a 2-1 record against Atlantic Coast Conference members a year ago. This year, the Camels will play 11 games against schools located in North Carolina.
CU opens Big South Conference play on Tues., Sept. 3 with a 7 p.m. start against VMI at the Eakes Complex. Last year at Lexington, Va., the Camels scored their second-straight 3-2 triumph over the Keydets as Jhuvon Francis provided the game winner.
A trip to Davidson (Sept. 11) begins a stretch of 7-straight non-league opponents for the Camels. The Wildcats and Camels last met in 2011 when Davidson scored a 1-0 victory in Buies Creek.
The Camels travel to Baltimore to meet Loyola for the fifth time since 2008 on Sept. 14. Last season, Campbell dealt the Greyhounds a 2-0 setback in Buies Creek. Despite finishing with a 13-6-1 overall record and a number-two ranking in the final North Atlantic Region poll, Loyola failed to make the NCAA tourney field.
CU returns home for a Sept. 17 date with North Carolina, which finished fifth in the final 2012 NSCAA coaches poll after compiling a 16-4-3 overall record. The Tar Heels dealt Campbell a 3-0 defeat on Oct. 23, 2012 at Chapel Hill to level Campbell's record against nationally-ranked teams to 2-2-1 last season.
Campbell won 3-straight contests against the Tar Heels in 2006, 2007 and 2008 before falling to UNC in 2009 and last season.
The arduous non-conference ledger continues Sept. 21 at Charlotte, which advanced to the second round of last year's College Cup after reaching the 2011 final (against eventual national champion UNC). Charlotte finished last season with a 15-4-3 overall record and No.-23 national ranking. Campbell and Charlotte last met in 2011 when the 14th-ranked 49ers handed CU a 2-0 loss in the Queen City.
The road portion of the non-conference schedule concludes Sept. 24 at Campbell's most frequent rival in the school's men's soccer history – UNC Wilmington. In the 47th game in the series, CU defeated the Seahawks 2-1 last season in Buies Creek thanks to goals from Aleksi Tossavainen and Justin Franz. Ten of the last 15 meetings in the series – which Campbell leads by a 26-20-1 margin – have been decided by one goal.
The Camels host two-time defending Southern Conference champion and NCAA participant Elon on Tues., Oct. 1. Last season, the Phoenix dealt Campbell a 3-1 setback at Elon. A second-straight SoCon foe visits Buies Creek on Sat., Oct. 5 when Campbell hosts UNC Greensboro in a 7:00 p.m. family weekend match. The last time the Camels and Spartans met, CU equalized with six seconds remaining in regulation in a 1-1 draw Sept. 22, 2010 at Greensboro.
Campbell closes the regular season with nine-straight Big South Conference matches, starting with an Oct. 8 date at defending league tournament champion Winthrop. CU defeated the Eagles 5-2 last season in Buies Creek, but the sixth-seeded Eagles won 3-straight one-goal decisions (two in overtime) in the league tourney to earn the Big South's automatic berth to the NCAA College Cup.
Over the last eight years, the Camels have compiled a 48-17-5 (.721) record in regular season conference play and captured three regular season titles (2005, 2008, 2009 in the Atlantic Sun Conference). CU stands 12-7 in Big South regular season action since re-joining the league in 2011.
Campbell hosts Radford Oct. 12 for a 7 p.m. kick-off. The Camels are looking for their first victory over the Highlanders since re-joining the Big South in 2011. In each of the last two seasons, Radford has dealt Campbell a 2-1 setback.
The Camels travel to UNC Asheville Oct. 19 for a 2:00 p.m. matinee against the Bulldogs. CU stands 12-2-1 all-time vs. UNCA after a 5-1 win last October in Buies Creek.
Longwood visits Campbell in men's soccer regular season play for the first time as a Big South member on Oct. 23. Last season, Campbell defeated the Lancers 1-0 at Farmville, Va., during Longwood's inaugural Big South season.
Homecoming is set for Oct. 26 with Gardner-Webb visiting Buies Creek for a 1:00 p.m. kick-off. The day's events also include a Campbell soccer alumni game that morning, plus home football (4 p.m.) and women's soccer (7 p.m.) contests. Campbell has won both meetings with Gardner-Webb since rejoining the Big South, including a 2-0 decision last year at Boiling Springs.
CU and High Point tangle in Furniture City on Oct. 30. A year ago, the Camels handed then 25th-ranked HPU a 2-1 defeat behind goals from Francis and Gaez on Oct. 17 in Buies Creek. In the Big South tournament first round, the fourth-seeded Camels and fifth-seeded Panthers played to a 4-4 draw, but the visitors advanced after out-dueling the Camels 5-3 in penalty kicks.
Liberty comes to Buies Creek on Nov. 2 as six Fighting Camel seniors – Ethan Hall, Travis Golden, Aleksi Tossavainen, Eduardo Rodriguez, Chirag Shah and Justin Franz – are scheduled to make their final regular season home playing appearance. Campbell defeated Liberty 3-1 in 2011 at Buies Creek, but dropped a 1-0 decision last year at Lynchburg.
The regular season concludes with a pair of road contests. Campbell travels to defending regular season champion Coastal Carolina Nov. 6. The Chanticleers finished 2012 ranked 11th in the final NSCAA poll after compiling a 20-3-2 overall record and advancing to the third round of the College Cup. Along the way, Coastal earned a 3-1 victory at Buies Creek.
Campbell heads to Presbyterian in the regular season finale Nov. 9. Two years ago, PC dealt the Camels a 3-2 overtime loss at Clinton, S.C. CU rebounded with a 3-0 triumph last year on Homecoming at Campbell.
The top eight teams in the 11-school Big South standings will advance to the conference tournament. First round matches will be hosted by the top four seeds on Tues., Nov. 12. Bryan Park in Greensboro, N.C., will host the semifinals (Nov. 15) and title match (Nov. 17). Campbell has compiled a 17-7-1 record all-time in Big South tournament play.
Fifteen letter winners, including nine starters, return from the 2012 club. Among those back are first-team all-conference defender Travis Golden, as well as second-team all-league picks in goalkeeper Ethan Hall and Jhuvon Francis, plus all-freshman team honoree Isaiah Page.