SAINT LEO, Fla. – The Saint Leo men’s soccer Head Coach Joel Harrison, has announced their schedule for the impending 2010 season. The Lions, who return 15 players from the 2009 squad, look to improve from their 6-9 record in 2009 and re-establish themselves as one of the top teams in a very difficult Sunshine State Conference. Last season marked the first year a Harrison-led team did not record at least nine wins.
The Lions have 16 games on tap in 2010, including seven home contests and nine away games. The team opens the season, however, with their longest voyage of the year when they travel to Tennessee for a two-game swing. While in ‘the Volunteer State’, the Green & Gold will match up with the nationally-ranked Carson Newman Eagles on Thursday, September 2nd, before traveling to NAIA opponent Tennessee Temple University on September 3rd. Kickoff for the match-up with the Eagles is set for 6:00 p.m., while the tussle with Temple will begin at 3:00 p.m.
The Lions home side of things opens just three days later when Johnson & Wales enters the friendly confines of University Field on Monday, September 6. SLU went 5-4 at home in 2010, and are currently 40-10-3 all-time at University Field under the tutelage of Harrison. After a stop in Lake Wales to take Warner University on Wednesday, September 8, the Lions will host the Hurricanes of Georgia Southwestern University on Friday, September 10. In their last three meetings with Southwestern, the Lions are a combined 3-0 and have outscored their opponent 13-0 over that period.
Following a week of training, Saint Leo will open the most rigid portion of their schedule when they travel to Winter Park, Fla. to take on 2009 SSC regular season co-champions Rollins in their SSC opener. Game time between the two teams is set for Friday, September 17 at 7:00 from Cahall-Sandspur Field. The Tars closed the year ranked 10th in final NSCAA/adidas top-25 poll.
The Lions will then come home to their most challenging non-conference match-up as the West Florida Argonauts visit Saint Leo. Last year, the Argos came from behind in the final 10 minutes to upend the Lions, 2-1. Kickoff is set is currently set for Sunday, September 19 at 3:00 p.m.
SSC rivals Tampa and Florida Southern are next on the schedule. The Spartans, SSC co-champions with Rollins, finished 2009 ranked fifth in the country and concluded their regular season schedule by seizing its contest with the Lions, 5-1. Another intriguing match-up follows when SLU treks to Lakeland, Fla. to take on Florida Southern (9/29). The Lions have a three-game winning streak over the Mocs and will look to extend their winning ways in a key SSC bout. Start time is set for 7:00 p.m.
Taking a break from SSC action, the Lions will travel to Lakeland one final time to take on NAIA opponent Southeastern (10/5) at 7:00 p.m. Next, the Lions will continue their four-game road splash in Melbourne, Fla. where SSC competitor Florida Tech awaits. SLU dropped a 2-1 heartbreaker to the Panthers last season and are seeking a measure of revenge in their Friday, October 8 contest. Opening commencements are set 4:00 p.m. The Lions close-out their 2010 SSC road schedule with an afternoon matchup with Lynn. The Lions posted a 2-1 triumph over the Fighting Knights last year and look to extend that streak against a team that finished third in SSC. Game time is set for 3:00 p.m.
The level of competition does not relax over the final quarter of the schedule. Fortunately for the Lions’ brass, they will make their final push for post-season play from University Field. Saint Leo will begin the three-game, SSC home stand against Nova Southeastern on October 16. Retribution is on the minds of the Lions, as they were edged by the Sharks, 3-2, in a late season SSC contest. The 7:00 p.m. match-up will be trailed by a showdown with Eckerd on October 20 at 7:30 p.m. Saint Leo will close home action with a stiff challenge from 2009 SSC Tournament winner, Barry. The Lions suffered a 3-1 hiccup to the Buccaneers last year, but Saint Leo will look to turn back the Bucs on senior day. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m.
The conclusion of SSC play does not mean the end of the regular season, however, as in-region opponent Palm Beach Atlantic will play host to SLU in the season finale. The Lions and Sailfish have split their previous two meetings with their October 28th contest proving to be the rubber match.
In discussing the 2010 season and schedule, coach Harrison stated, “Our 2010 schedule will be challenging right out of the gate as we play Carson Newman, who finished #20 in the final NSCAA poll and was and NCAA tournament team last year. We also play UWF, who is always a contender in the region for an NCAA bid and returns the nucleus of their team.
Of course, we face a tough challenge every time we step on the field in SSC competition. This may be the toughest the conference has been from top to bottom since my arrival at SLU. Several teams are returning eight or more starters from a year ago which will certainly make for a very challenging and competitive season.”
The Lions have set lofty goals for themselves, and believe that 2010 is the year the pieces all fit together.