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PHILADELPHIA - Penn is set to embark on a fresh slate for the 2012 men's soccer season, hoping to return to the NCAA Tournament for the third time in five seasons, welcoming a host of new teams to the docket along the way.
Rudy Fuller, the James C. Gentle Head Coach of Men's Soccer, has added seven new clubs to the Red and Blue's schedule for 2012 that did not appear in 2011, bringing new challenges to his youthful squad. For three of those opponents - New Hampshire, Air Force and Hartford - the meetings at Rhodes Field mark the creation of new series as the Red and Blue continue to add new opponents to a record book that dates back 107 years.
"We are excited to get our 2012 season underway and look forward to the challenges this schedule presents," Fuller said."There is a great balance to the slate in that there are a number of opponents on this year's schedule that will be new to us and there are others that we have become very familiar with over the years."
The Quakers again have their sights set on an Ivy League championship, looking to add an eighth trophy to their credit and first since 2008. Overall, Penn has appeared in nine NCAA Championships and Fuller has compiled a non-conference schedule which he hopes will have Penn at the top of the selection lists come mid-November.
"In the end, our goal every year is to capture the Ivy League Championship and gain the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament," At the same time, we want to be sure that we have a schedule that will position us for an at-large bid if we fall short of the Ivy League title. I am confident that our non-conference schedule will prepare us well for our Ivy League foes and set us up for success come tournament time."
After traveling back and forth to California to begin the 2011 season, the Quakers will stay in University City for the opening weeks of 2012 as Penn hosts its first five matches of the season. The campaign kicks off against Lafayette on August 31, followed by the first-ever visit to Rhodes Field by New Hampshire on September 2.
Penn will again host the Penn Soccer Classic in 2012, welcoming Air Force (Sept. 7) and Hartford (Sept. 9) to Rhodes Field. Both schools are challenging additions to the Penn Soccer Classic, with Air Force coming off its best season since 1997 with a 12-6-2 mark in 2011 and Hartford looking to follow up a 2011 run to the America East championship game.
The last of five matches at home to open the season is part of the third installment of the Ivy League/Big East Classic. This year, the Quakers host Philadelphia Soccer Six foe Villanova (Sept. 14) in a game that will also count in PS6 standings before heading to Fuller's alma mater - Georgetown - for Penn's first road contest of the season on September 16.
The Quakers return to the Princeton Tournament after a one-year absence and will take on Fairleigh Dickinson (Sept. 21) and Rider (Sept. 23). Penn is 4-0 against FDU all-time.
Philadelphia Soccer Six play wraps up for the Quakers on Sept. 26 with a quick walk westward to Drexel for the 39th meeting between the University City neighbors. Despite close proximity, the two sides have not met since 2005, a 5-0 win for the Quakers.
Ivy League play begins on September 29 when Penn heads to Ithaca for a date with Cornell. Matches do not get closer than the ones Penn and Cornell have put together the past two seasons, each side winning on the road by 1-0 scores on goals in the final minute of play. The rubber match could go a long way to determining the fate of each team's 2012 Ancient Eight campaigns.
The home portion of Ivy play begins for the Quakers on October 6 when Columbia visits Rhodes Field, part of a five-match stretch of League play for the Quakers. The next two are on the road, at Ivy co-champion Dartmouth (Oct. 13) and Yale (Oct. 20) before a return to Rhodes Field and 2011 Ivy co-champion Brown on October 27.
The homestretch for the Red and Blue begins in earnest with the final non-conference match of 2012 against Penn State at home on October 31. Penn will head out on the road one more time to visit Princeton on November 3 before finishing the regular season on November 10 against Harvard at Rhodes Field in what should be an exciting rematch to Penn's most memorable match from 2011 - a 3-2 win in overtime at Harvard on Thomas Brandt's third goal of the evening.
2012 Penn Men's Soccer Schedule
August 31 - LAFAYETTE 5 p.m.
September 2 - NEW HAMPSHIRE 6 p.m.
Penn Soccer Classic
September 7 - AIR FORCE 7:30 p.m.
September 9 - HARTFORD 1 p.m.
Ivy League/BIG EAST Classic
September 14 - VILLANOVA 7:30 p.m.
September 16 - at Georgetown 1 p.m.
September 21 - vs. FDU TBA
September 23 - vs. Rider TBA
September 26 - at Drexel 7 p.m.
September 29 - at Cornell* 7:30 p.m.
October 6 - COLUMBIA* 7 p.m.
October 13 - at Dartmouth* 4:30 p.m.
October 20 - at Yale* 3 p.m.
October 27 - BROWN 7:30 p.m.
October 31 - PENN STATE 7 p.m.
November 3 - at Princeton* 7:30 p.m.
November 10 - HARVARD* 7 p.m.
November 17 - NCAA First Round
November 21 - NCAA Second Round
November 23 - NCAA Third Round
November 30 - NCAA Quarterfinals
December 7-9 - NCAA College Cup
Home Matches in BOLD CAPS
* Indicates Ivy League Match
All home matches played at Rhodes Field
All dates and times subject to change