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Jaguar Soccer Releases 2014 Schedule

Updated: Tuesday, June 10 2014, 03:21 PM CDT
MOBILE, Ala. (WPMI) A bevy of home dates and two tournaments highlight the 2014 University of South Alabama soccer schedule released Tuesday.

The Jaguars will host 11 matches plus the Jaguar Classic in September-featuring Troy, North Florida and Francis Marion-and the Sun Belt Conference Tournament in early November.

"I'm pleased with the schedule," USA head coach Graham Winkworth said. "We've got a good mix of home and away games. We're trying to make the schedule tougher and tougher each year. We knew we were going to be successful last year, we didn't know we were going to be quite as successful as we were so quickly. When we did the scheduling, we focused on the next two or three years, and each year it will be harder and harder."

After a home exhibition match Aug. 15 against Jacksonville State, USA does anything but ease into the regular season, hosting UAB on Aug. 22 and Nicholls State on Aug. 24. UAB defeated the Jags 3-2 last season in Birmingham en route to an 11-7-2 campaign, while Nicholls State went 12-6-2 a season ago, including a tie against South Alabama in Thibodaux.

"The opening weekend is going to be big for us," Winkworth said. "We play two teams that we failed to beat last season, so we know we're going to be in for a test."

South Alabama ventures out on the road for the first time Aug. 29 and Aug. 31 for the Trojan Classic in Troy, Ala. against Tennessee Tech and Kennesaw State, respectively.

The Jaguars return home for a Sept. 5 date with Southern Miss before commencing a three-match road trip Sept. 7 at Southern and ending it Sept. 14 at Alabama A&M. Sandwiched in the middle is a contest at Mississippi State, a team South Alabama defeated 3-2 in Mobile to open the 2013 season.

"We had a massive game against them last year," Winkworth noted. "We know they're going to be fired up to play us. Anytime you play an SEC school, you know it's going to be a big challenge."

The Jaguar Classic starts a five-match homestand that also coincides with the start of conference play. September 19 and 21 will feature a doubleheader each day, with Troy and Francis Marion facing off on Friday before South Alabama takes on North Florida. On Sunday, Troy will take on UNF and the Jags clash with FMU.

"This is something that was done in the past but stopped for a couple of years," Winkworth said. "We have an agreement with Troy where we go to their tournament and they come to ours each year. It's nice to do that because you've four games where you're not doing too much traveling. We're excited about it. Playing North Florida is going to be a challenge because it's another team that beat us last year so the girls will have some incentive to prepare for that game. This is something we want to have every year and I think it will be a lot of fun."

South Alabama's Sun Belt slate starts Sept. 26 vs. Troy, and after a week break, continues Oct. 3 and Oct. 5 against Louisiana-Monroe and Louisiana-Lafayette, respectively.

"In a way, starting off with three at home might put some pressure on us because most teams in the conference were successful at home," Winkworth said. "The girls are used to playing under pressure, and having three games at home, in a way, could add pressure, but if we can get off to a good start, could put one foot in the door for the conference tournament, before we've even really gotten into the conference season."

After almost a month straight at home, the Jaguars will head to Texas State Oct. 10 then make their way to new league member Appalachian State on Oct. 12.

Another Sun Belt newcomer, Georgia Southern, will make its first trip to Mobile Oct. 17 before Georgia State arrives Oct. 19 to close out USA's home schedule.

The regular season concludes the next weekend with a road trip to Arkansas State on Oct. 24 and Arkansas-Little Rock on Oct. 26.

"Our conference schedule is very tough; we have a lot of traveling to do with flights and long bus rides, so that's going to be very difficult," Winkworth said. "The hardest thing is that we're going to have such a young squad and getting them used to the rigors of such intense travel is going to be difficult, but we have some pretty good leadership with the 10 that are returning so I'm excited about that."

Mobile will be the site of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament for the second time in three years. The quarterfinals will take place Nov. 5, followed by the semifinals on Nov. 7 and the championship match on Nov. 9.

"I'm hugely excited about it," Winkworth said. "I thought it was going to happen in a couple of years so to have it happen in my second year is very exciting. The older girls are going to have to teach the younger girls how important the tournament is, and how lucky we are to have it on our own field. It is a huge advantage; we're a very powerful team at home-we only lost one home game last season-so anybody that wants to come and win the tournament on our field is going to have to come up with something special."

for the complete schedule.Jaguar Soccer Releases 2014 Schedule

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