Six teams that advanced to NCAA postseason play a year ago highlight the 2018 Campbell University men’s soccer schedule.
The 18-game slate is equally divided into home and road contests for the Camels, who finished third in the Big South Conference standings a year ago with 9-7-3 overall record and 5-2-1 league mark.
“We will be playing the hardest schedule we’ve faced, but also will put the best product on the field since we’ve been here,” said head coach Dustin Fonder, who is entering his fourth season in charge of the Camels. “We expect to compete for a conference championship and the nonconference portion of the schedule should prepare us for league play.”
After exhibition games against Elon at home and on the road vs. Appalachian State, the Camels open their year on the road against a pair of teams coming off postseason appearances.
The Camels travel to Dallas, Texas, to face Illinois-Chicago in the season opener on Aug. 24 in the opening round of a two-date tournament at Southern Methodist. Last year, UIC finished 11-6-3 and won the Horizon League tournament to secure an NCAA Championship bid.
Two days later, the Camels face host SMU, which finished 17-3-1 in 2017, won the American Athletic Conference title and reached the third round of the NCAA Championship. The Mustangs were ranked eighth nationally in the final 2017 United Soccer Coaches poll.
Campbell makes its regular season home debut Sept. 1 against former A-Sun rival Belmont, which is now competing in men’s soccer as an associate member of the Southern Conference. The Camels own an 11-2-0 edge in the all-time series with the Bruins, most recently a 2-0 victory in 2016 at Buies Creek.
The Big South opener is Sept. 4 at newest league member USC Upstate – another former A-Sun foe. CU is 5-1-0 all-time against the Spartans, but the schools have not played since the 2010 campaign – CU’s last year in the A-Sun – when Campbell claimed a 1-0 victory at Spartanburg, S.C. USC Upstate is coming off a 3-10-2 campaign, including a 1-5-0 in league play.
Longtime rival Davidson visits Buies Creek on Sept. 8 to being a stretch of three-straight home games for the Camels. The Camels and Wildcats first squared off in 1963, Campbell’s first year of men’s soccer competition, and most recently played in 2015 at Davidson.
Former Big South foe VMI – now a member of the Southern Conference – comes to town Sept. 12 for a midweek contest. CU won the last three matches between the teams – most recently in 2013 – by identical 3-2 scores.
Navy visits Buies Creek on Sept. 15 for a 3 p.m. kick-off at the Eakes Complex. Last year at Annapolis, Md., the Camels claimed a 2-1 victory over the Midshipmen in overtime.
Campbell travels to Radford, which won the 2016 Big South title and finished second in last year’s standings (5-1-2) on Sept. 22. CU then faces longtime in-state rival UNCG three days later in Greensboro. Over the last five years, the Camels and Spartans have met four times with UNCG claiming 1-0 decisions in 2016 and 2017, CU winning 1-0 at UNCG in 2014, and the teams playing to a 2-2 draw in 2013.
Presbyterian, which won the 2017 Big South Championship and NCAA postseason berth from the sixth seed last season, visits Buies Creek on Sept. 28 for a 7 p.m. start.
Campbell then faces midweek games at Omaha (Oct. 3) and Duke (Oct. 9). The Mavericks won the Summit League title last season and finished 10-6-3. Duke was ranked 13th in the final coaches poll and finished with a 13-4-3 mark, after reaching the second round of the NCAA Championship.
Big South rival Winthrop heads to Campbell for an Oct. 13 date. The Camels have won the last two meetings with the Eagles, including a 2-1 victory last year in Rock Hill, S.C., thanks to a pair of JJ Donnelly goals.
Old Dominion, which finished 13-6-2 and won the 2017 Conference USA title, comes to the Creek on Oct. 16. Last season, the Camels and Monarchs battled to a 1-1 draw at Norfolk after Donnelly scored the equalizer in the 74th minute.
CU travels to Gardner-Webb for a 4 p.m. kick-off on Oct. 20. Donnelly scored CU’s lone goal in a 1-1 deadlock with the Runnin’ Bulldogs last season in Buies Creek.
Defending Big South regular season champ High Point (10-5-4, 7-1-0) comes to the Eakes Complex Oct. 24. Fonder stands 2-1 against his former team since taking over the Campbell program in 2015. Last year, the Camels – behind Donnelly’s 65th minute volley – dealt the Panthers their lone regular season loss in league play.
Campbell’s final home game is set for Oct. 27 vs. UNC Asheville. CU stands 3-0 against the Bulldogs under Fonder’s guidance, including last season’s 2-1 OT victory at Asheville. Donnelly equalized in the 38th minute, while Bastien Oberli provided the golden goal from the penalty spot with 1:57 remaining in the second overtime period.
The regular season comes to a close on Halloween night at Longwood. A year ago in Buies Creek, the Camels recovered from a 3-1 halftime deficit to force extra time on Gabe Parrish’s 79th minute strike. Donnelly than capped his second hat trick of the season in the 104th minute for the winner.
The Big South Championship commences Nov. 4 with the third-seeded team hosting the sixth seed and fourth seed entertaining the fifth seed. Semifinal matches will be played Nov. 7 at the top- and second-seeded teams. The highest remaining seed will host the Big South Championship final on Nov. 11 with the league’s automatic berth in the NCAA Championship at stake.
Ten players who started at least 10 matches in 2017 return for Fonder’s fourth season in Buies Creek. In addition to Donnelly, who earned all-conference and all-region honors after ranking 13th in the country in goals per game (0.68, 13 in 19 matches), the Camels return Big South freshman of the year Alemu Mercer-Miko, first-team all-league defender Gideon Betz and Parrish, who was selected as honorable mention all-league after ranking second in the Big South with seven assists. Also back is Humberto Chaves, who joined Mercer-Miko on the Big South all-freshman team.
2018 Campbell Men’s Soccer Schedule
Date Day Opponent Location Time
Aug. 12 Sunday ELON (Exhibition) BUIES CREEK 5
Aug. 18 Saturday at Appalachian State (Exhibition) Boone 5
Aug. 24 Friday Illinois-Chicago Dallas, Texas 5
Aug. 26 Sunday at SMU Dallas, Texas 7
Sept. 1 Saturday BELMONT BUIES CREEK 7
Sept. 4 Tuesday at USC Upstate * Spartanburg, S.C. 7
Sept. 8 Saturday DAVIDSON BUIES CREEK 7
Sept. 12 Wednesday VMI BUIES CREEK 7
Sept. 15 Saturday NAVY BUIES CREEK 3
Sept. 22 Saturday at Radford * Radford, Va. 7
Sept. 25 Tuesday at UNC Greensboro Greensboro 7
Sept. 28 Friday PRESBYTERIAN * BUIES CREEK 7
Oct. 3 Wednesday at Omaha Omaha, Neb. 7
Oct. 9 Tuesday at Duke Durham 7
Oct. 13 Saturday WINTHROP * BUIES CREEK 7
Oct. 16 Tuesday OLD DOMINION BUIES CREEK 7
Oct. 20 Saturday at Gardner-Webb * Boiling Springs 4
Oct. 24 Wednesday HIGH POINT * BUIES CREEK 7
Oct. 27 Saturday UNC ASHEVILLE * BUIES CREEK 7
Oct. 31 Wednesday at Longwood * Farmville, Va. 6
Nov. 4 Sunday Big South Championship First Round TBA TBA
Nov. 7 Wednesday Big South Championship Semifinal TBA TBA
Nov. 11 Sunday Big South Championship Final TBA TBA