BALTIMORE – UMBC first-year head women's soccer coach Leslie Wray announced Thursday the Retrievers' 2012 schedule, which includes seven contests at the UMBC Soccer Park, all of which will be streamed live on UMBCRetrievers.tv.
"I'm really excited about the season," Wray said. "I'm excited to get started with the team and am looking forward to the new players that are coming in that we were able to recruit here in the short amount of time that we had, as well as bringing back the players that we were able to work with all spring."
After an off-season makeover at the helm of the program, UMBC looks towards its 2012 slate which features two NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago, two in-state rivals, and includes opponents from the Colonial Athletic Association, the Patriot League, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and the Northeast Conference.
"The outlook of our season is not just to do better than last year, but our biggest focus with UMBC is that we are changing the culture and the direction that the women's soccer program is going into," explained Wray. "This year, our first year here, is a time where we start to change the way that people are looking at UMBC, not just by winning a game here and a game there, but really making a difference in our out-of-conference as well as our in conference games."
The program will kick off the Wray era on its home field, hosting Lafayette in UMBC's first-ever meeting against the Leopards on Friday, Aug. 17. The squad wastes no time jumping on the road for five of its next six games, beginning with a stop at in-state rival Navy on Sunday, Aug. 19 – its second of four Patriot League opponents scheduled for the 2012 campaign.
A home contest on Aug. 25 against American splits up the road swing which continues with contests against Drexel (Aug. 27), St. Peter's College (Aug. 31), defending NEC Champion Long Island University (Sept. 2) and Bucknell (Sept. 7).
"Our out of conference play is going to be difficult," admitted Wray. "We have a lot of teams from the Patriot League that have done well. We are going to have to play well against those teams, in addition to a number of our other road opponents. We have one away trip where we have two tough opponents in St. Peter's and Long Island. Both are competitive teams and Long Island went to the National Tournament last year, so we want to make sure that we to not only do well against them, but get results."
UMBC concludes non-conference action on Friday, Sept. 14 when it travels to Virginia Commonwealth to meet the Rams, who finished the regular season with one loss in its final 10 games.
"As much as we want to be successful in the out-of-conference schedule, we know that our focus has to be on America East games," explained Wray. "We have to win four games in conference if we want to make the America East Championship. We haven't made it since 2005 and if we are trying to change the culture here, that is our first step in doing so."
The Retrievers take eight days off before opening up America East action on a two-game road trip, traveling to New England to take on New Hampshire (Sept. 23), before heading over to Hartford on Sept. 27.
UMBC returns home to welcome Maine to the UMBC Soccer Park in the Retrievers' first home league contest of the year (Sept. 30) and follows by hosting the defending America East Champion in Boston University on Oct. 4.
"The good thing about our league schedule is that we have a good break between our nonconference and conference play, where we aren't playing a game," Wray said. "We'll see if that helps us or hurts us. With so many young players on the team and rebuilding this program, having that time away can help us gain momentum in some of that time off and have people who have injuries heal and give us a break mentally and physically."
A week-long hiatus will get the Retrievers prepared for the final two weeks of America East play, with UMBC visiting Vermont on Oct. 11, before back-to-back home games against Stony Brook (Oct. 14) and Binghamton (Oct. 18).
UMBC travels to Albany to take on the Great Danes in its regular season finale on Oct. 21.
2012 UMBC Women's Soccer Schedule
Thurs. 9 Loyola^ Retriever Soccer Park 1 p.m.
Sat. 11 VMI^ Retriever Soccer Park 7 p.m.
Fri. 17 Lafayette Retriever Soccer Park 7 p.m.
Sun. 19 Navy Annapolis, Md. 1 p.m.
Sat. 25 American Retriever Soccer Park 1 p.m.
Mon.23 Drexel Philadelphia, Pa. 1 p.m.
Fri. 31 St. Peter's College Jersey City, N.J. 4 p.m.
Sun. 2 Long Island University Long Island, N.Y. 1 p.m.
Fri. 7 Bucknell Lewisburg, Pa. 7 p.m.
Sun. 9 Longwood Retriever Soccer Park 1 p.m.
Fri. 14 VCU Richmond, Va. 7 p.m.
Sun. 23 New Hampshire* Durham, N.H. 2 p.m.
Thurs. 27 Hartford* Hartford, Conn. 7 p.m.
Sun. 30 Maine* Retriever Soccer Park 1 p.m.
Thurs. 4 Boston University* Retriever Soccer Park 7 p.m.
Thurs. 11 Vermont* Burlington, Vt. 3 p.m.
Sun. 14 Stony Brook* Retriever Soccer Park 1 p.m.
Thurs. 18 Binghamton* Retriever Soccer Park 6 p.m.
Sun. 21 Albany* Albany, N.Y. Noon
^ Scrimmage *America East game Bold-Home game