SPRING ARBOR, Mich. – Spring Arbor University head men's soccer coach Nathan Miller has announced the 2017 schedule that features nine regular season home games, including its home opener against Olivet Nazarene University on Saturday, Sept. 9.
Miller and the Cougars will look to build off a strong 2016 campaign that saw the team author one of the greatest seasons in program history. Spring Arbor finished the year ranked No. 15 in the country with a 15-4-4 record, captured the Crossroads League title and advanced to the second round of the NAIA national tournament – a feat not accomplished since the 1977 season.
The slate kicks off with five straight matches on the road, with two of those opponents participating in last year's national tournament – West Virginia University Tech and Keiser University. The season begins, however, with a trip to Trinity International University on Aug. 19.
The following week, Spring Arbor will face a stretch of four matches in seven days. The Cougars will be in Chicago from Aug. 26-28 for a pair of contests at the Trinity Christian College Invitational – highlighted by a match against Trinity Christian, which is under the direction of former SAU assistant coach Eric Salley, on Monday, Aug. 28. The Cougars will also take on No. 6 ranked West Virginia Tech on Aug. 26 before heading south to Miami, Florida to take on Keiser on Aug. 30 and Johnson & Wales University on Sept. 1.
"We have a very competitive and challenging schedule that will test our squad in many ways," said Miller. "Going to Miami in late August, in the heat, will be a great obstacle for our team to tackle. Also the trip to Chicago features a big match against a Top 10 opponent in West Virginia Tech."
Following the lengthy road swing to begin the year, Spring Arbor will play seven of its next eight matches at home. The home opener is on Saturday, Sept. 9 at 7 p.m. against Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) powerhouse Olivet Nazarene University, which also qualified for last year's national tournament.
The Cougars will play three more non-conference tilts before opening the Crossroads League portion of its schedule by hosting Taylor University on Homecoming on Saturday, Sept. 30 at 4 p.m.
"It will be important for us to be fit and focused early on the road, and then get in a great playing rhythm with all the home matches in September," added Miller. "But, for sure, it's all about getting battle tested, improving and getting ready for the Crossroads League."
In addition to the Trojans, SAU will also play host to the University of Saint Francis (Oct. 7), Huntington University (Oct. 11), Mount Vernon Nazarene University (Oct. 18) and Marian University (Oct. 28) in the regular season finale.
Road league matches include stops at Indiana Wesleyan University (Oct. 4), Goshen College (Oct. 14), Grace College (Oct. 21) and Bethel College (Oct. 25.)
The Crossroads League Tournament is scheduled to begin on Wednesday, Nov. 1 with the semifinals set for Saturday, Nov. 4. The championship will be held on Saturday, Nov. 11.