MELBOURNE, Fla. (Women’s Soccer) – On Monday, Florida Tech head women’s soccer coach Dustin Smith officially released the Panthers’ schedule for the 2015 season. In his first year at the helm of the women’s program, Smith will guide FIT through a rigorous 15 game slate that includes four contests versus Top 25 teams and six home games at Rick Stottler Field.
“This year we are really excited to see what we can accomplish,” said Smith. “We set some pretty high expectations and goals, based on the number of returners and the incoming class of freshmen and transfers. We have the opportunity to open the season with some challenging contests. Playing some Texas schools and some regional schools is going to be a difficult thing for us to do in the beginning of the season.”
The Panthers will play three preseason contests prior to the official start of the season. FIT will host exhibitions against Eastern Florida State on Aug. 18 and Orlando City Youth Soccer’s Elite Club Team on Aug. 23, before heading to St. Augustine, Florida for a scrimmage versus Flagler College on Aug. 27.
Florida Tech opens the season in the Longhorn State with matchups against St. Mary’s University on Sept. 3 in San Antonio, Texas and St. Edward’s University on Sept. 5 in Austin, Texas. St. Edward’s is ranked No. 24 in the 2015 National Soccer Coaches Association of America Preseason Poll after making it to the Sweet 16 a year ago.
The second week of the season finds the Panthers on the road again, with three games in three states. On Sept. 10, the team faces USC-Beaufort in Beaufort, South Carolina before heading to Coker, South Carolina for a contest with Coker College on Sept. 12. FIT then travels south for its Sunshine State Conference opener at No. 13 Barry on Sept. 16. The last three matchups between the Panthers and Bucs resulted in three consecutive scoreless, double-overtime draws.
FIT’s home and SSC opener is set for Sept. 19 against Eckerd. Following the contest with the Tritons, the Panthers get prepared for two games versus nationally ranked opponents. First up is a road matchup with No. 17 Saint Leo on Aug. 23 in Saint Leo, Florida. On Aug. 26, Florida Tech hosts NSCAA No. 2 Rollins, the 2014 SSC Tournament Champion and National Runner-Up.
The Panthers have two road contests against SSC opponents, Palm Beach Atlantic on Sept. 30 and Lynn on Oct. 3, prior to facing Embry-Riddle and Nova Southeastern at Rick Stottler Field on Oct. 10 and Oct. 14, respectively.
FIT will play its final road game on Oct. 17 versus Florida Southern in Lakeland, Florida. The Panthers close out the 2015 regular with home games against Lynn on Oct. 20 and Tampa on Oct. 24. The matchup with the Spartans will serve as Florida Tech’s Senior Day game.
The 2015 SSC Tournament will be hosted by the team with the best record in the conference at the end of the regular season, with the quarterfinals occurring on Nov. 3 and the semifinals and finals set for Nov. 6-8.
“The Sunshine State Conference from top to bottom is very strong, as evidenced by everyone’s win-loss record, historically”, Smith stated. “It’s a great representation for our conference that we do have such high rankings between certain schools right now, with Rollins at No. 2, Barry at No. 13 and Saint Leo at No. 17. But I could reassure you that some of the other schools are either on the cusp or could be in the Top 25, as well. Our conference always prepares us for what lies ahead in the postseason.”
The NCAA Tournament is set to begin on Nov. 13-15 with the regional championship and ends with Final Four weekend Dec. 5-7.
Florida Tech’s full 2015 schedule can be found on the team’s page at FloridaTechSports.com/wsoccer.