Gonzaga announces 2018 soccer schedule - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Gonzaga announces 2018 soccer schedule

Photo: Gonzaga Athletics Photo: Gonzaga Athletics

By Gonzaga Athletics

SPOKANE, Wash. – The Gonzaga Bulldogs have announced their 2018 men’s soccer schedule. The Zags, led by first-year head coach Paul Meehan will play nine regular-season games at home and nine on the road, including one home and one away exhibition match.

Ten of the 18 scheduled opponents in 2018 had winning records in 2017, and three advanced to the NCAA Tournament. The Zags will travel to Utah Valley on August 14 at 4 pm and host Corban on August 19 at 3 pm for a pair of exhibitions. The Bulldog coaches and players are looking forward to this challenging slate.

“The coaches did a great job setting up a schedule that will challenge us as a team and prepare us for conference,” redshirt senior defender Austin Giftopoulos said. “There are several difficult road trips and these obstacles will allow our team to develop so we can succeed in conference.”

GU will open the season on August 24 at Bradley at 5 pm, who they have played the last three seasons, going 2-0-1. Gonzaga then returns home for five-straight home matches beginning with Cal Poly on August 27 at 7 pm. The Zags will host new NCAA Division I member Cal Baptist on August 31 at 7 pm and Washington, who had an RPI of 38 to finish last season, on Labor Day, September 3 at 7 pm. GU was supposed to play Washington at home last season, but the game was moved to Seattle due to heavy smoke in Spokane.

“Washington is one of the top programs in the country consistently, by reaching the tournament and graduating players to the professional ranks,” Meehan said. “Jamie (Clark) and his staff are among the best and I respect them a ton.”

GU will finish the home stand against 2017 Big West Champion UC Davis, who finished last season with an RPI of 60, on September 7 at 3 pm and CSU Bakersfield two days later at 7 pm. The Bulldogs then head out on the road for four-straight, beginning with Oral Roberts on September 14 at 5 pm. The Zags will then play possibly their most challenging non-conference game of the season, traveling to SMU on September 16 at 11 am, as SMU was ranked No. 8 nationally to finish last year and reached the third round of the NCAA Tournament, finishing with an RPI of 13.

“Like UW, SMU is one of the top programs in the country and Kevin (Hudson) has established himself in the short time he has been there,” Meehan said. “This is likely to be one of our most difficult matches, mid-day in Dallas in early September is sure to be hot and humid.”

On September 20, GU will go to Sacramento State for a 3 pm match and then UC Santa Barbara on September 25 in a 7 pm game.

“This year our goal is to be thieves on the road by stealing points,” junior defender Garrett Wilson said. “We then plan to be relentless on Luger Field.”

The Zags open conference play with perennial West Coast Conference power Portland at home on October 6 at 7 pm, who had an RPI of 44 last year. The Bulldogs will host San Diego on the 12th at 7 pm and Loyola Marymount on the 14th at 1 pm.

“We’ve had tough schedules in the past and this one is no exception,” redshirt senior goalkeeper Ben Willis said. “I’m confident in this team to battle each and every day, win games, and make it to the tournament.”

They will travel to Missouri State on October 20 for 5 pm match, before returning to conference play on October 26 and 28, at Santa Clara at 7 pm and at 2017 WCC Champion San Francisco at 2:30 pm, respectively. GU will stay on the road on November 4 at Saint Mary’s at 1 pm before wrapping up the regular season at home on November 10 against Pacific at 7 pm, who along with San Francisco, advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last year.

“There is so much parity in the WCC and there never is a lack of quality,” Meehan said. “It’s very difficult to predict with any degree of certainty who will win the conference title.”

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