HIGH POINT, N.C. – Head Coach Brandi Fontaine and the High Point University women’s soccer staff officially released their 2019 schedule this Tuesday, with the approaching season opener against Virginia Commonwealth scheduled for Tuesday August 22nd, inside Vert Stadium. HPU will matchup with three teams from 2018’s NCAA Championship tournament, facing programs from the A10, CAA and the Big XII during the non-conference portion of its schedule.
The Panthers’ opener against the Rams will mark the second straight year they’ve begun the regular season with a home match, after defeating Appalachian State 4-0 on August 17th of last year. HPU’s matchup with VCU is one of seven non-conference contests currently scheduled for 2019, following opening day with back-to-back road trips at Elon and West Virginia to close out the month.
High Point’s trip to Morgantown will be its first since 2012, facing off with a Mountaineers squad that finished the previous year ranked No. 9 in the country and reached the second round of the 2019 NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship Tournament.
“This year’s non-conference schedule will be a great test for our team, coming off a very productive spring,” said Head Coach Brandi Fontaine. “We like to use the non-conference portion to put us in uncomfortable situations in order to help us grow. We challenged ourselves against quality teams in the spring and showed we have the ability to compete when we are firing on all cylinders. I believe it will give us a great boost to prepare us for Big South play.”
HPU returns home for their second home match of the year, competing across from triad-rival UNCG. The Panthers will be looking to put an end to the Spartans’ two-game winning streak in the pair’s series, as UNCG comes off a Southern Conference Tournament Championship and an NCAA Tournament appearance.
The remainder of the non-conference season will be highlighted by road contests with William & Mary, Western Carolina and Marshall, before the official start to the Panthers’ Big South season opens on September 21st against Charleston Southern.
“Conference games are always a battle and nothing is given in those games,” said Fontaine. “Each game is going to be a grind and we have to meet that grind head on. In order to find success this year we must put away our chances and we can’t give up the leaky bad goals that we gave up last season. I believe we have firmed up our defense and that our attack has gained some experience that will create more opportunities.”
HPU will open conference-play against the Bucs for the first time since 2011, where the Panthers defeated CSU by a margin of 1-0 at home in Vert Stadium. This season’s Saturday conference-opener will be part of High Point’s Soccer Alumni Weekend, with the women’s contest accompanied by a doubleheader with High Point University men’s soccer program later in the afternoon.
The Panthers’ home conference schedule is highlighted by contests with last year’s Big South champion Radford and a rematch with Winthrop University. HPU will face the defending title-holders on October 12th, and host a Winthrop squad that defeated High Point on an overtime penalty kick goal in 2018 on the 19th.
This year’s homecoming festivities will take place on October 5th, as the Panther women host Hampton University for the first time in the two programs’ histories, coupling with men’s soccer for the second doubleheader of the year on that Saturday.
High Point enters the 2019 season coming off its 20th straight trip to the postseason last year. The side will be looking to improve upon the eighth-place finish they recorded in the Big South standings, after sweeping both regular season and tournament conference titles in 2017. HPU secured five shutouts in the previous year on the way to a 5-10-4 record, while rising sophomore Skyler Prillaman earned both Freshman of the Year honors and a First Team All-Conference selection.
The Panthers will get one final test before the start of the regular season, playing an August 16th exhibition against visiting Charlotte inside Vert Stadium at 7:00 PM