BUIES CREEK, N.C. – The 2012 Campbell University men's soccer schedule includes five opponents that were ranked in last year's final region polls and four schools that advanced to the NCAA College Cup. The 2012 campaign marks the 50th season in Campbell men's soccer history.
Coming off a 9-9-2 campaign in 2011 and a third-place finish in the Big South Conference (5-4-0), the Camels will face 10 league opponents (including newest member Longwood) two of which advanced to NCAA post-season competition.
"Our goal every year is to create a schedule that will challenge our players and help us improve throughout the season," said head coach Steve Armas, who is entering his third year in charge of the program. "It serves as motivation through the summer months and contributes to our goal as a program. We feel that our schedule will challenge us in the non-conference portion and have us well-prepared for when Big South conference play begins."
Campbell opens the year with a pair of matches in Texas, starting with a Fri., Aug. 24 date at Southern Methodist. The Mustangs won the 2011 Conference USA title and were ranked No.-19 in the final NSCAA poll after earning the sixth overall seed in the College Cup before finishing with a 13-7-1 record.
Two days later, Campbell travels to Houston Baptist (3-10-3 in 2011) to conclude the trip that marks a homecoming for a quartet of Camels who played high school soccer in the Lone Star State – Mitchell Cardenas (College Park), Justin Franz (Cedar Park), Travis Golden (Austin) and Keegan Terry (Carrollton).
Campbell opens its home schedule against its most frequent rival in the school's men's soccer history – UNC Wilmington – on Wed., Aug. 29 for the 47th game in the series. Nine of the last 14 meetings in the series – which Campbell leads by a 25-20-1 margin – have been decided by one goal. Last year, Mitchell Cardenas assisted on two goals in a 4-2 Camel triumph at Wilmington.
The Camels travel to 2011 Southern Conference tournament champion and NCAA participant Elon on Sat., Sept. 1. Last season, the Phoenix dealt Campbell a 3-1 setback in Buies Creek.
Loyola and Campbell meet for the fourth time since 2008 when the Greyhounds visit Buies Creek on Sat., Sept. 15. A year ago, Loyola secured a 1-0 win in Baltimore. The teams played to a scoreless draw on Sept. 1, 2010 at the Eakes Complex in Steve Armas' debut game as Camel head coach.
On Sept. 18, Campbell travels to Raleigh to take on North Carolina State, the first of three Atlantic Coast Conference members on the 2012 ledger. CU has faced at least one Atlantic Coast Conference school in men's soccer in each of the last 19 years.
Last October, Ben Iiames scored in extra time off Cardenas' corner kick lifting Campbell to a 1-0 victory over the Wolfpack in Buies Creek.
The 10-game Big South schedule begins with four-straight road games against league opponents. Over the last six seasons, the Camels have compiled a 41-14-5 (.725) record in regular season conference play and captured three regular season titles (2005, 2008, 2009 in the Atlantic Sun Conference).
CU travels to Radford for a 6 p.m. kick-off on Sat., Sept. 22. A year ago, Radford dealt Campbell a 2-1 loss in Buies Creek.
Campbell heads to newest Big South member Longwood on Wed., Sept. 26 for the first-ever men's soccer meeting between the schools. The Lancers compiled an 11-6-3 overall mark, including a 3-1 record vs. Big South foes, in 2011.
A third-straight away game follows on Sat., Sept. 29 at VMI. Last season, Cardenas scored twice (including the winner in the 80th minute) in a 3-2 Camel triumph over the Keydets at Buies Creek.
The road stretch breaks on Tues., Oct. 2 when Virginia Tech visits Buies Creek for a 7 p.m. start. The Camels and Hokies played to a 1-1 draw last year in Blacksburg when the Hokies equalized on a 70th-minute own goal in a game where the visitors held a 23-11 edge in shots.
Campbell's fourth-straight road match to open Big South competition falls on Fri., Oct. 5 at defending league tournament champ Liberty. Last season at Buies Creek, Cardenas scored twice and assisted on Jhuvon Francis' goal in a 3-1 Camel triumph.
In the 2011 Big South Championship tournament, the fourth-seeded Flames advanced on penalties in the quarterfinals after a goal-less match with Radford. LU then knocked off top-seeded Coastal Carolina 2-1 in the semis before defeating second seed and host Gardner-Webb 3-1 in the final. Liberty drew at Old Dominion in the College Cup opener, but was eliminated in PKs.
Campbell's Big South home opener comes on Oct. 10 against 2011 league regular season champion Coastal Carolina, which finished 18-4-0 overall and was ranked 19th in the final NSCAA poll. The Chants dealt an injury-plagued Camel side a 5-1 setback in last year's regular season finale at Conway, S.C. Coastal Carolina holds a narrow 11-10-1 margin in the all-time series.
Winthrop visits Buies Creek on Sat., Oct. 13 for a 5 p.m. kick-off. Cardenas, Keegan Terry and Justin Franz scored in a 3-1 CU victory last year at Rock Hill, S.C.
High Point, which downed the Camels 2-0 in the 2011 regular season and ousted CU 3-1 in the league tourney, comes to the Eakes Complex on Oct. 17.
Presbyterian visits Buies Creek on Homecoming, Saturday, Oct. 20 for a 3:30 p.m. kick-off in a game when CU will recognize its alumni while celebrating its 50th men's soccer season. The Blue Hose claimed a 3-2 win over Campbell in extra time last year at Clinton, S.C., despite a pair of goals from Travis Golden.
The home stretch breaks on Oct. 23 for a date at defending national champion North Carolina. The Tar Heels finished 21-2-3 overall last year and carry a 26-match home unbeaten streak into the 2012 campaign. In the last meeting between the schools, then second-ranked UNC won 2-0 at Chapel Hill in 2009 to break a 3-game losing streak to CU, which knocked off the Heels in 2006, 2007 and 2008.
Campbell's final home game of the regular season is set for Sat., Oct. 27 against UNC Asheville. CU stands 11-2-1 all-time against the Bulldogs following last year's 3-2 win at Asheville when Bryce Miller, Francis and Terry hit the nets.
The regular season concludes Nov. 3 at Gardner-Webb. CU dealt the Bulldogs a 3-1 setback a year ago in Buies Creek behind strikes from Ricki Gaez, Franz and Golden.
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. 6. Bryan Park in Greensboro, N.C., will host the semifinals (Nov. 9) and title match (Nov. 11). Campbell has compiled a 17-7 record all-time in Big South tournament play.
Fourteen letter winners, including eight starters, return from the 2011 club. Among those back are first-team all-conference and All-South Atlantic Region midfielder Mitchell Cardenas, plus second-team all-league performers Justin Franz and Travis Golden, as well as all-freshman team honoree Jhuvon Francis.