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WSOC | Postseason Teams Highlight Gaels' 2018 Schedule

The Saint Mary's women's soccer team will face seven teams this fall that played in the postseason a year ago
The Saint Mary's women's soccer team will face seven teams this fall that played in the postseason a year ago
June 12, 2018

MORAGA, Calif. — The Saint Mary’s women’s soccer team faces a strong schedule in 2018 that kicks off with a home exhibition against defending Mountain West Conference champion San Jose State and features seven postseason teams from a year ago, including three who made the NCAA Tournament.

The Gaels’ (7-11-1, 3-5-1 West Coast Conference) non-conference slate starts with the season-opening exhibition against the Spartans in Moraga on Aug. 10 before starting a four-game regular-season-opening road trip. SJSU won the Mountain West Conference regular season title and was the No. 1 seed in the MWC Tournament last season.

“We feel that our first exhibition game is against one of the top teams in this area,” said Saint Mary’s head coach Travis Clarke. “We feel it’s a good challenge for our younger players.”

The Gaels will be welcoming ten freshmen this fall and only have two seniors returning, providing plenty of opportunities for young players to gain experience and play in some of the Gaels’ bigger matches.

“We set up the schedule to take (the team) on the road for the first two weeks of the season and develop team chemistry, challenge them against teams we feel are really competitive, and then come home and have some games we have a shot at getting some results in to build momentum going into the WCC,” said Clarke.

SMC’s season-opening road trip starts in Southern California at Big West Conference Tournament participants UC Riverside and Cal State Fullerton. The Titans advanced to the 2017 NCAA Tournament first round before being knocked out by Pepperdine. The Gaels then head across the country to Burlington, Vt., where they will go toe-to-toe with American East Conference Tournament team Vermont, as well as the Black Bears from the University of Maine.

“Riverside and Fullerton both were Big West Conference Tournament teams and Fullerton was the Big West Conference champion,” said Clarke. “That’s where we feel we’re challenging ourselves from the start.

“It’s nice to take a trip to the East Coast. A lot of our players have never done that before,” he added. “Challenges on our East Coast trip will be the differences in the time, the weather, even the differences between East Coast style of play and West Coast style of play.”

Saint Mary’s then returns home to open its home slate with a three-match home stand starting Aug. 30 against Hawaii, Nevada, and Fresno State. Three more matches against California foes CSU Bakersfield (away, Sept. 14), Sacramento State (away, Sept. 16), and UC Davis (home, Sept. 22) will ready the Gaels for their West Coast Conference schedule.

Loyola Marymount will kick off conference play for the Gaels in Moraga (Sept. 28) before playing defending WCC champion Pepperdine, who finished 2017 ranked No. 16 in the nation, also at home on Sept. 30. Pepperdine advanced to the 2017 NCAA Tournament’s second round, but the Gaels were the only team in the West Coast Conference to tie the Waves, handing them their only non-win during 2017 conference play.

SMC’s conference schedule will prove to be as challenging as ever with notable teams including San Diego, BYU, and Santa Clara, who reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament and finished ranked No. 20 last year.

“We’re going to have to take it game by game,” said Clarke. “We’re used to our field, we don’t have to travel, we get to sleep in their own beds (on opening weekend), but every single game in the WCC is so competitive. It doesn’t really matter, home or away.”

2018 season, group, and individual tickets will go on sale later this summer. Stay tuned to SMCGaels.com and follow the Gaels at @SMCGaels and @SMC_WSoccer on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for updated information on ticket sales.

 

 

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