CULLOWHEE, N.C. – On the heels of back-to-back seasons and earning the fourth seed in the Southern Conference Championships in consecutive years, Western Carolina women’s soccer is looking to continue to claw its way up the conference ladder as head coach Chad Miller today unveiled the 2019 schedule.
The Catamounts play 18 regular season matches which feature nine home games at the Catamount Athletic Complex. The season culminates at the SoCon Championships, Nov. 8 and Nov. 10, at UNCG in Greensboro, N.C.
“We are excited as we embark on another season here at WCU,” said Miller. “Our goal as a group is to continue to build upon the success of the past few seasons and push to contend in the SoCon for a championship. I like our group and feel we have a great mix of veterans and young players for the 2019 campaign. I also believe our leadership core is prepared and up for the challenges that lie ahead.”
Western Carolina will face teams from seven states including North Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Virginia, and Florida. The Catamounts will go up against teams from six different conferences including the Atlantic-Sun (North Florida), Atlantic-10 (Davidson), Big South (Gardner-Webb, High Point, Radford, and UNC Asheville), Ohio Valley (UT Martin), and Conference USA (Middle Tennessee and Charlotte). WCU will square off against five Southern Conference opponents on the road including ETSU, Wofford, Furman, UNCG, and VMI while four – Chattanooga, Samford, The Citadel and Mercer – each visit the Catamounts in Cullowhee.
The Catamounts will tangle with two teams that made NCAA Championship appearances in 2018. Radford won the Big South Championship earning an NCAA bid along with UNCG who won the SoCon Championships punching a ticket.
WCU will play two exhibition games – one at home and one on the road. The Catamounts square off against rival Appalachian State in Cullowhee on Aug. 13 before closing out the exhibition portion of the schedule at Winthrop on Aug. 16.
Western Carolina has the luxury of five of its first seven matches at home to open the season. The first home game of the year is against Gardner-Webb on Sunday, Aug. 25. The Catamounts continue their three-game homestand by also welcoming Middle Tennessee (Aug. 29) and UT Martin (Sept. 1) before hitting the road to face Davidson on Sept. 5. After traveling to Charlotte on Sept. 8, the Catamounts will then host High Point (Sept. 12) and Radford (Sept. 15).
All told, WCU is scheduled to play its first eight regular-season matches in the state of North Carolina, rounding out that mark at UNC Asheville on Sept. 22.
The Catamounts first match out of the state of North Carolina will be a trip to Jacksonville, Fla., to face North Florida on Sept. 22. It will also be WCU’s final non-conference match of the regular season.
SoCon play opens on the road at ETSU on Sept. 27. A pair of home games follow with Chattanooga (Oct. 4) and Samford (Oct. 6) coming to Cullowhee before the squad hits the road for weekend tilts at Wofford (Oct. 11) and Furman (Oct. 13). The Catamounts then return home for the senior weekend when they host The Citadel (Oct. 18) and Mercer (Oct. 20). The last two league contests will be road matchups against UNCG (Oct 25) and VMI (Oct 27).
“The SoCon will continue to be a very challenging and competitive league this fall,” Miller said. “I think the gap from top to bottom has shrunk considerably over the past three years. It requires you to be your best every time out and every point matters along the way. There are some great coaches and players in this league, and we will be tested every weekend for sure. I like our out of conference schedule with a mix of different styles of play and some tough road opponents that should prepare us come conference play. We are excited as a staff about the fall and look forward to the journey with our group.”
The SoCon Tournament begins Oct. 30 with the first round and the quarterfinals will be played three days later on Nov. 2. Both rounds will be hosted by the higher seed. The semifinals and championship game will be played Nov. 8 and 10 on the campus of UNCG in Greensboro, N.C.
Western Carolina ended 2018 with a record of 8-8-2 and 5-4 in SoCon play earning a No. 4 seed in the SoCon Championships for the second-straight season. The Catamounts’ season ended with a 1-0 loss to No. 5 seed Furman in the quarterfinals of the SoCon Championships.
The Catamounts return 19 players from the 2018 squad for the upcoming season including leading scorer in goals sophomore Reily Nelson who paced the team with three goals including a game-winner, two assists, and eight points.
Admission is free to all Western Carolina women’s soccer home matches.