Aug. 23, 2012
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The No. 20 UAB men’s soccer team is set to open the 2012 regular season with a pair of home games over the weekend. The Blazers will open the campaign on Friday night against Mercer (7 p.m.), followed by a game against Georgia Southern on Sunday at 3 p.m. Both contests will be held at West Campus Field.
“You never feel quite as ready as you want to when you start a season, but I think we’ve had a great preseason,” UAB head coach Mike Getman said. “We’ve played three good exhibition matches to get us ready and also got some good results out of it. I think about as good as we can expect at this point.”
UAB students with a valid ID who attend the contests will be served free Full Moon BBQ beginning an hour prior to the men’s soccer game’s kickoff. There will also be a number of giveaways and entertainment at the contests.
Friday’s game will feature an iPad giveaway to one lucky UAB student. Students will be able to register for the drawing upon entering West Campus Field. The drawing for the iPad will take place on the field at halftime of the Mercer contest.
On Sunday, the first 100 fans in attendance will receive a free UAB Banner.
“We’ve had great success at West Campus Field over the years because we’ve had great crowd support,” Getman said. “There’s a real npose that comes down from the stands and onto the field, especially late in the game. We had a great crowd against Louisville and it really helped us out and having a big crowd for our games this weekend would really be a big boost to us.”
UAB, the defending Conference USA regular season champion, returns eight starters and 13 letterwinners off last season’s 13-5-3 squad. Leading the list of returnees is preseason all-conference honoree Reed Matte
, along with 2011 all-conference performers Mladen Lemez
(second team), Darion Copeland
(all-freshman) and Diego Navarrete
The Blazers open the year ranked as high as No. 20 in the country (CollegeSoccerNews.com) and are No. 21 in the NSCAA Coaches Preseason Poll.
The Blazers earned a spot in last year’s NCAA Tournament, securing the No. 11 overall national seed and a bye into the second round of play, where they fell to eventual national runners-up Charlotte.
Mercer returns nine starters and 15 letterwinners from last year’s 9-8-3 team. The senior trio of Josh Shutter (3g, 4a), William Betts (5g, 2a) and Joey Heavner (1g, 7a) will look to lead the Bears on the pitch. Goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh returns after recording seven cleansheets and a 1.11 goals against average as a true freshman in 2011.
Georgia Southern is coming off an 8-8-1 record in 2011. The Eagles, who finished 1-1 in exhibition play, return four of their top-five goal scorers from a year ago including Witt Carlisle (six goals) and team captain Hunter Norton (four goals). As a unit, the Eagles return nine players who started more than 10 games last year.