“We are really excited about the balanced schedule we have put together,” stated SUU head coach Becky Hogan. “Teams that we will face in the preseason reflect similar styles and level of play that we will see throughout the Big Sky.”
SUU starts things off by hosting Dixie State on Aug. 22 before heading on the road for a visit to Cal State Santa Barbara. The T-Birds return home to take on Cal State Bakersfield leading up to trips to UTEP and Utah Valley.
“Opening up with a game versus Dixie State gives us a chance to establish a little southern Utah rivalry,” explained Hogan. “You see it brewing throughout high school soccer programs, and youth programs, so we thought it would be exciting to extend that fervor to the biggest soccer stage in the state.”
Southern Utah then closes out non-conference play with an appearance at the NAU Tournament where it will face Grand Canyon and Wright State.
“The NAU tourney pits us against teams we have never played before and these fresh battles will provide a perfect preparation for conference play. We'll be able to go at them blind and just focus solely on what is important for our team to accomplish,” commented Hogan. “It's nice to step outside of the traditional matchups and see how the players respond.”
The Big Sky schedule opens with three straight home matches for the Thunderbirds, with visits from Sacramento State, Portland State and Idaho. SUU then travels for meetings with Northern Colorado and North Dakota in early October before wrapping up its home slate by hosting Eastern Washington and Montana.
“Beginning conference play with three home games is something that we are looking forward to again this year,” stated Hogan. “We have a bit of a chip on our shoulder after dropping two out of our three opening games at home last year, including the heart breaking overtime loss to NAU.”
The T-Birds close out the year with three road matches, including trips to Idaho State, defending Big Sky champion Weber State and Northern Arizona. The conference tournament will be hosted by the regular season champion during the first weekend of November.
“I believe with the maturity of our 14 sophomores paired with some highly motivated seniors, not to mention the return to play of Jahna Tacson and Aurora Moberly, we will put a competitive side out on the field every match,” said Hogan.