Expectations High As Florida Tech Women’s Soccer Releases Schedule For Upcoming Season
By Jameson Carter, FIT Asst. Dir. Athletic Communications // July 3, 2016
Panthers Look to build on impressive 10-5-2 record
ABOVE VIDEO: A look back at a successful 2015 season for the Florida Tech Women’s soccer team. A season dedicated to the late great Fidgi Haig.
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA –With year number one in the books, Florida Tech women’s soccer head coach Dustin Smith is anxious – to say the least – to return to the field and build off last season’s strong 10-5-2, 5-3-0 in the Sunshine State Conference, campaign.
As the preseason workouts approach, plenty of anticipation is certainly building as the Panthers remain less than two months from kicking off 2016.
“We’re always super excited every year, especially now when we can see light at the end of the tunnel with the season getting ready to start,” he said. “I feel really good about our foundation from last year, especially with everything the girls went through.”
Even with the expectations set reasonably high, though, don’t expect the Panthers to try and dodge some of the nation’s top competition in hopes of reaching the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013.
In addition to eight contests within arguably the country’s toughest league, Florida Tech will step outside its comfort zone in battling back-to-back reigning Lone Star Conference Champion Texas A&M Commerce, 2015 NCAA Tournament representative West Florida and even three-time defending national champion Grand Valley State.
“Grand Valley State will really be a benchmark for us in regards to how competitive we are,” Smith added. “These are going to be very difficult, important matches that early on in the season will hopefully help us build momentum moving forward in trying to compete for a conference championship.”
Following exhibition matches with nearby neighbor Eastern Florida State on August 17 and Peach Belt Conference member Flagler on August 20, Florida Tech will make its much-awaited debut by hosting A&M-Commerce in the Marriot Doubletree Panther Invitational on September 2 before squaring off with UWF just two days later to cap the early-season event.
Continuing the Gulf South Conference trend, the Panthers will then head to neutral-site Saint Leo the ensuing weekend to battle with West Alabama on September 9 and Christian Brothers on September 11.
Even after the rigorous opening four-game stretch, the Panthers won’t have any time to relax as they immediately dive into the SSC portion of their schedule at home on September 14 versus 2015 league champ Barry. The matchup with BU begins a run of four straight SSC contests that also include Eckerd (Sept. 17), SLU (Sept. 21) and Rollins (Sept. 24).
Consecutive bouts with Palm Beach Atlantic (Sept. 28) and Lynn (Oct. 1) at Rick Stottler Field will come next for Smith’s squad. Yet, after a home heavy slate in the first half of the year, the Crimson and Gray will be mightily tested with five of its final six matches on the road – a stretch that’ll all but likely decide the regular season conference champion.
The Panthers will welcome Florida Southern to Melbourne for Senior Night festivities on October 15 prior to wrapping up the regular season in a rare non-conference clash at Lynn on October 25.
Postseason play is due to get underway with the quarterfinal round of the 2016 SSC Tournament tabbed for November 1, while the semifinals and finals have been set for November 4 and 6.
“We obviously lost some key seniors,” Smith stated. “However, moving forward, we’re really excited for the upcoming schedule because we feel it has a high level of difficulty of which we don’t want to shy away from.”
CLICK HERE for the 2016 schedule.
CLICK HERE FOR MORE FLORIDA TECH SPORTS.