ASHLAND, Va. – Randolph-Macon men's soccer will face five teams that participated in the NCAA Tournament in 2017 along with two teams ranked in the United Soccer Coaches Division III National Top 25 and two teams receiving votes in the same poll, it was announced Tuesday. In addition, R-MC will face four teams that were ranked in the South Atlantic Region.
"We are excited about this year's schedule," said Head Coach Josh Laux. "We have been playing a very solid schedule since my arrival as head coach, but this will be our most difficult challenge to date. Our non-conference schedule has been upgraded once again and if all falls into place, we should have a high enough strength of schedule to receive an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament if we are successful again this year."
R-MC will open the season at the Catholic University Tournament in Washington, D.C. on Friday, August 31 against Baruch and Saturday, September 1 against Ursinus. Both games will be at 1:00 PM. Baruch won three straight CUNYAC Tournament Championships from 2012-2014, while Ursinus is an up-and-coming Centennial Conference team.
The team will then face two NCAA participants at home the following week. Rowan will visit Randolph-Macon on Wednesday, September 5 at 4:30 PM. Rowan finished last season at 17-4-1 and ended the season ranked second in the South Atlantic Region. The Profs received votes in the final United Soccer Coaches Division III Top 25 poll.
The Yellow Jackets then sees another strong team in Cabrini University. That game is set for Saturday, September 8 at 1:00 PM. Cabrini also received votes into the Top 25 to finish last season and defeated Rowan in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
R-MC is set for a pair of away matches next, one to St. Mary's (Md.) and another at Catholic. The games are rematches of two of the harder fought matches for R-MC in 2017. R-MC defeated the Seahawks 3-2, only after gaining a score in the 83rd minute. Against Catholic, the battle lasted until the 109th minute -- when recent graduate Bryan Lutz scored to end the game in the second overtime. His goal was the only one of the game in a 1-0 victory.
Conference play commences with a match at Randolph on September 19th at 7:00 PM.
"The conference is our main priority and always will be," Laux said. "We have a brutal stretch of ODAC games all in a row, but we look at that as an opportunity to succeed at the highest level. Our goal is to offer our program two avenues into the NCAA tournament, the automatic qualifier, which goes to the ODAC champion; or an at large bid."
R-MC has slated Old Dominion Athletic Conference newcomer Ferrum in a home match on Saturday, September 22 at 3:30 PM. Following that match, archrival Hampden-Sydney will visit Ashland with a match on Wednesday, September 26 at 4:30. The game is a rematch of the ODAC Quarterfinal from last season, which R-MC won 2-1 to advance to the ODAC Semifinals.
Washington and Lee continues the strong stretch for R-MC as the Yellow Jackets travel to face the Generals at 3:00 PM on September 29.
After returning home, R-MC will prepare for Lynchburg next, in a match scheduled for Wednesday, October 3 at 4:00 PM. W&L and Lynchburg were both ranked in the USC Division III Top 25 poll to end last season as well as in the South Atlantic Region. Both were participants in last year's NCAA Tournament and Lynchburg is the reigning ODAC Champion.
R-MC's strong push continues with a home date with Roanoke on Saturday, October 6. R-MC did not face the 13-5-1 Maroons last season. Following the home stand, R-MC travels to Shenandoah and Guilford for matches on October 10 and October 13 respectively. The Quakers were also not on the calendar for R-MC in 2017.
The Yellow Jackets return home to face Mary Washington, an NCAA participant and a team that was ranked in the South Atlantic region last season. The Eagles were 15-5-1 last season.
Randolph-Macon finishes the season with Emory & Henry at home on Saturday, October 20 and on the road to Virginia Wesleyan on Wednesday, October 24.
"Our program has come a long way in a short time and our guys deserve to play a schedule of this caliber," Laux said. "They have earned it and we are excited to keep pushing to reach the highest level of college soccer."
Randolph-Macon finished last season 14-3-1, making an appearance in the ODAC Semifinals and winning the team's first seven games in a row.