May 1, 2013
NASHVILLE - Eight non-conference games and one exhibition contest will prime the 2013 Vanderbilt soccer team for Southeastern Conference play, according to the fall schedule released Wednesday by Head Coach Derek Greene.
"When you look at this schedule, I think we've done a great job of setting ourselves up for SEC play," Greene said. "Anytime you build a non-conference schedule you want to make sure you have a really good mix of opponents. We have some great regional opponents alongside a few national opponents that have drawn great recognition over the last few years. We are thrilled with what we think this schedule will do for us as we head into SEC play."
The Vanderbilt Soccer Complex will play host to 11 games this fall, including a preseason contest against Louisville on Sunday, August 11. Last season, the Commodores did not play an exhibition, opting instead to use all 20 available dates for regular-season games. But league coaches voted to reduce the SEC slate from 13 games back to 11 this season, giving schools two extra non-conference dates--a welcome change according to Greene.
"It allowed us to add non-conference games back into our schedule, where hopefully we're playing good teams and boosting our conference RPI without beating up on each other," Greene said. "Doing this also allows us--for the first time ever--to have some days off in conference play. This is such a brutal conference that you need a break built in for your kids both mentally and physically. The ability to take breaks is going to be outstanding, not only for our kids, but for our conference as a whole. As a lot of our teams head into the NCAA Tournament, we may just have an opportunity to be a little more rested than other teams in the country. I know that all of the coaches and the players will be very excited about it."
Vanderbilt will open its SEC schedule with one game on the weekend of Sept. 21, playing host to LSU for a rare Saturday conference game. The Commodores' other one-game weekend comes on Oct. 11, a Friday night game at Ole Miss.
Another change for this year involves Vanderbilt's final regular season game of the year, which has changed from Kentucky to Tennessee. The Commodores will play host to the Lady Vols this year on Thursday, Oct. 31, for Vanderbilt's Senior Night, while entertaining the Wildcats in early October. Greene believes his team will be ready for a tough 11-game league schedule.
"Everybody in the country knows that the SEC is an emerging conference," Greene said. "As a league, we're trying to become the dominant women's soccer conference in the country--we want women's soccer to match what the rest of the SEC is doing across all sports. The coaching in this conference is outstanding and the recruiting by all programs has gone up a level over the last two or three years."
Vanderbilt's non-conference schedule features eight regular season dates. The 2013 slate opens with a home weekend against UAB and Oklahoma State. Third-year head coach Harold Warren has the Blazers on the rise, while the Cowgirls have made the NCAA field in six of the past seven seasons under Colin Carmichael--including Elite Eight appearances in 2010 and 2011.
Over Labor Day weekend, the Commodores will travel to Memphis before returning home to face Rice in what is shaping us a reunion weekend for VU assistant coach Sebastian Vecchio. The Commodores' goalkeeping mentor and recruiting coordinator, Vecchio came to Vanderbilt from Rice and also played and coached at Memphis.
The Commodores next travel to the University of Wisconsin Tournament in Madison. There Vanderbilt will play a pair of teams that advanced to last season's NCAA Tournament--Wisconsin and MIlwaukee. The 2013 non-conference slate end in the middle of September with another split weekend. Vanderbilt will travel to Samford for a Friday night game before returning home to face Georgia State.