HARROGATE, Tenn. — Featuring three NCAA Tournament qualifiers, and the National Championship runner-up, the 2014 Lincoln Memorial University men’s soccer schedule is laced with opportunities for the Railsplitters to state their case for making a return trip to the regional tournament for the first time since 2007.
The Railsplitters’ docket is comprised of 16 regular season matches with seven set to be held within the friendly confines of the LMU Soccer Complex . There will be seven true road contests, one of which is non-conference, while the slate opens with a pair of non-conference, neutral site affairs.
Kicking off in Columbus, Ga., at the Columbus State Classic, the Railsplitters challenge a pair of 10-win Gulf South Conference foes during the opening weekend of the season. The Railsplitters will battle the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers on Sept. 5 before squaring off against the Shorter Hawks on Sept. 7. Under the direction of Paulo Neto, former player and assistant for Lincoln Memorial head soccer coach Helio D’Anna at Union, the Hawks are entering their first season as full-time members of the NCAA Division II.
Opening the home schedule as well as South Atlantic Conference play, the Railsplitters welcome the Coker Cobras to the pitch on Sept. 13. That home stand will wrap up with a non-conference draw against the rebuilding North Georgia Nighthawks on the 17th.
Along with two additional non-conference contests against the Lees-McRae Bobcats on Oct. 1 and the Trevecca Nazarene Trojans in Nashville on Oct. 28, the Railsplitters will duke it out with three conference foes who qualified for the NCAA Tournament, along with the National Championship runner-up.
As the schedule has it, the Railsplitters will see all three of those opponents in back-to-back matches in mid-October. The Railsplitters are set to trek to Jefferson City on Oct. 8 for a duel with arch-rival Carson-Newman, who advanced all the way to the 2013 National Championship game before falling in a 2-1 heartbreaker to Southern New Hampshire. Following that, the Railsplitters return to the road on the 11th for a match-up with Queens, the defending SAC regular season and tournament champion. Finally, Lincoln Memorial wraps up that grueling stretch at home against Anderson on the 18th. The Trojans have won three of the last four SAC Championship titles.
The final home game of the regular season, which is reserved for Senior Day, is set for Oct. 22 and it features a match-up against the Tusculum Pioneers. Lincoln Memorial hits the road for the final three matches of the regular season, trekking to Catawba on Oct. 25, Trevecca Nazarene on Oct. 28 and Wingate on Nov. 1 for the finale.
At the completion of the regular season, the top eight teams in the South Atlantic Conference standings earn bids to the Food Lion SAC Championship. The semifinal round and the title match are held at the beautiful Manchester Meadows facilities in Rock Hill, S.C., but the top four teams in the standings host the quarterfinal draw of the SAC tournament.
The Railsplitters hope to repeat past tournament glory and break through to the NCAA Tournament after being on the cusp of an at-large bid for each of the past two seasons. Lincoln Memorial has not returned to the NCAA Tournament field since reaching the National Championship contest in 2007.