The Stetson men's soccer team opens the 2012 season on the road, traveling to Penn State and West Virginia in its first two contests. The Hatters will take on the Nittany Lions on Saturday at 7:00 p.m., and then make the trek to Morgantown to challenge to Mountaineers on Monday at 1:00 p.m.
The Hatters defeated the Nittany Lions a year ago, and have never faced the Mountaineers in the history of the program. Both teams are rich in tradition and talent, so opening weekend will be a great challenge for Stetson.
Penn State just missed out on a third straight trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2011, falling to Northwestern by a score of 2-1 in the Big Ten Championship. The Nittany Lions went 9-9-4 a year ago, with one of their losses coming to Stetson early in the campaign. Penn State has had a strong program historically, totaling 30 NCAA Postseason appearances, and 11 National Championships.
Monday will mark the first meeting between Stetson and West Virginia in the all-time sereies between the two teams. The Mountaineers have advanced to the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament each of the last three seasons. In 2011 WVU fell to Maryland after topping Xavier in First Round action. The Mountaineers, 11-8-1 overall last season, return Preseason First Team All-American defender Eric Schoenle, and have been ranked as high as 18 in the national polls.
The Hatters, who just barely missed out on the A-Sun Championship game a year ago, were selected to finish third in the league in the annual Preseason Coaches Poll. Stetson's challenging non-conference schedule should benefit a team that is attempting to qualify for its conference-best 14th straight A-Sun Tournament.
Fans can stay up to date with all of the action from the Hatters' first two contests by following @StetsonMSoccer on Twitter. Live stats will also be available at both Penn State and West Virginia. The Mountaineers will also provide a video stream.