MORAGA, Calif. — The Saint Mary's men's soccer team will have seven home games, and face a total of five programs that competed in the 2016 NCAA Championship during the challenging 2017 season.
In a road-heavy campaign, the Gaels will compete against a solid crop of teams throughout the new year. SMC will face 13 programs who finished 2016 inside the top-100 RPI, with two of the squads finishing the season nationally-ranked inside the top-25.
“We've put together a great schedule this year that is exciting, challenging, and will provide a tremendous student-athlete experience with the teams we are playing, as well as the destinations we are going to,” said Saint Mary's head coach Adam Cooper.
Exhibition Home Matches
The Gaels will open 2017 with a pair of home exhibition matches in August versus Sonoma State and Bay Area rival Cal. SMC will host Sonoma State on Thursday, Aug. 17 at 4 p.m.
SMC will take on the Golden Bears two days later on August 19. The Gaels tied Cal in last season's season opener, 2-2.
Non-Conference Road Slate
The Gaels will begin on a challenging road trip to two of the top programs in the Big West Conference. SMC will travel to Harder Stadium to face Big West contenders UC Santa Barbara on Aug. 25. Two days after, the Gaels will visit reigning Big West champions and NCAA Tournament participant, CSUN at the Matador Soccer Field.
The Gaels will hit the road for four away games in just ten days. SMC will head across the Bay Area to face San Jose State on Sept. 7 at 4 p.m. Coach Cooper and his squad will then head down to another Big West powerhouse and face Cal Poly at the Alex G. Spanos for the Mustangs' home opener on Sept. 10.
Saint Mary's will make way to Colorado for a pair of primetime games versus quality opponents. The Gaels will play Air Force for the seventh time in program history, as the series is tied 3-3.
On Sept. 17, the Gaels will face potentially their stiffest task of the season at Denver. The Pioneers reached the Final Four in last year's NCAA Championship, and finished the year nationally-ranked No. 3. Denver also ranked 6th in the season's RPI rankings and have not lost a home game since the 2015 loss versus SMU in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Gaels are 2-1 all-time versus Denver, with the last meeting 14 years ago in 2003 (SMC win, 3-2).
In the season's remaining non-conference road game, the Gaels will travel to another NCAA tournament participant and face national powerhouse Akron for the first time in program history. The Zips advanced to the second round in last year's NCAA tournament and have appeared in 30 NCAA Tournaments.
Trio of September Home Games
Saint Mary's will host its 2017 home opener on Sept. 2 versus Detroit Mercy. The Gaels will face the Titans for the first time in the school's history. The match is set for a 4 p.m. kickoff at Saint Mary's Stadium.
After a four week hiatus from home, the Gaels will host UC Davis and Sacramento State on Sept. 21 and 24.
SMC will kickoff the conference schedule with three consecutive road contests at Gonzaga, Santa Clara and San Francisco.
“I thought the WCC was a very strong conference last year and I believe it will be even stronger in 2017,” said Cooper. “Playing the non-conference teams we have lined up will prepare us for that.”
The Gaels will then finish the regular season with four straight conference home matches beginning with LMU on Oct. 27 at 3 p.m. SMC will conclude the month versus San Diego on Sunday, Oct. 29.
In the final week of the WCC season, SMC will face the top squads from last season who both competed in the NCAA Championship. The Gaels will first take on Pacific on Sunday, Nov. 5 at 1 p.m. The Tigers finished 2016 received votes in the NCAA top-25 rankings.
Much like last season, the Gaels will have their regular season finale versus the current WCC champion, Portland. The Pilots claimed last season's contest on their home turf to clinch the conference title. SMC will host UP on Saturday, Nov. 11 for a 1 p.m. kickoff.
Tickets on Sale!
Season, single match and group tickets to attend Saint Mary's men's soccer matches will go on sale on Monday, July 10. Tickets will be available online at SMCGaels.com or by calling the SMC Athletic Ticket Office at (925) 631-GoTX (4689).
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