Piedmont College men's soccer coach Jimmy Stephens has released his schedule for the 2013 season, beginning with a two-game weekend in Rome at the end of August. The Lions finished out their first season in the USA South Athletic Conference with a trip to the Conference Tournament where they were overwhelmed by top-seeded Christopher Newport University in the first round.
Stephens, a Piedmont alum himself, is in his 9th season as the Lions head coach. He will lead the Lions into their second season in the USA South with the goal of reaching the conference tournament again and competing for the championship. The Lions open the 2013 season against Louisiana College and Berry College at the end of August. They'll be attending the Winshape Invitational on the campus of Berry in Mt Berry, GA. Berry was the 2012 Southern Athletic Association champions defeating Centre in PKs to earn the title, and the Vikings are one of two conference champs that Piedmont will face in the first month of the season.
Less than a week later, Piedmont hosts Hiwassee College, a first-year soccer program traveling a short distance from Tennessee. The Tigers will face LaGrange College the day prior in a neutral game on Piedmont's Walker Athletic Field.
The Lions have a contest planned for Bob Jones University for the second year in a row. After a 4-1 home win in 2012, Piedmont will travel to Greenville, South Carolina to face the Bruins on their home turf where they saw 7,000 fans pack its home stadium for its first ever contest last August, making it one of the now toughest venues to visit in the South.
The following weekend, PC will make a long trip up to Virginia to play non-conference opponent Emory & Henry College on September 15th. The Lions and Wasps have developed some friendly competition in the past with Piedmont winning the 2011 match 2-1 in overtime followed by a 3-1 victory in Demorest this past season. With only a days rest, Stephens has set up a match against in-state rival Oglethorpe University on the 17th. The Stormy Petrels will travel to Demorest for a night match and a chance for the Lions to get even after a 1-4 loss in 2012.
USA South conference play begins September 20th for the Lions as they travel to Ferrum College in Virginia for a Friday match. The Panthers forced a tie in 2012, but the Lions plan to be better prepared in 2013. Less than two days later, Piedmont will host Sewanee: The University of the South in a non-conference match to stay on its toes. The two teams have not met since 2011 when Sewanee came from behind to hand the Lions a 2-4 loss.
After resting for a week, the Monarchs of Methodist University will step foot on Piedmont campus for another USA South Conference match. Methodist, the eventual 2012 USA South Conference Tournament Champions, defeated Piedmont with a 0-3 loss last year.
With October's arrival, momentum is key for the Lions to make it into the conference tournament. Lions and Panthers faceoff in Demorest on October 2nd for USA South play. Piedmont shutout LaGrange 2-0 on senior night in 2012 and will play for a similar result. Local rival Toccoa Falls College will give PC a workout again this year as the pair face off midweek. There will be no time for rest with the weekend approaching as the Lions host another USA South match, this time against the Battling Bishops of North Carolina Wesleyan College. In 2012, Piedmont held a 2-1 advantage at halftime over the #5 Battling Bishops. North Carolina Wesleyan took the advantage in goals in the second half but neither team could find a golden goal in overtime.
October's week three for the Lions means a midweek trip to USA South Conference rival Maryville College before returning home to face another rival, Huntingdon College. The Lions split games with the pair last year, losing 1-2 at Maryville and collecting a 2-0 win over the Hawks.
In the final two weeks of October, Piedmont will travel to three separate venues for USA South competition. First, a match against Greensboro College. The next day, the Lions face the Cougars at Averett University. Several days later, PC makes the trip to Lookout Mountain, Georgia for the final match of the regular season and conference schedule against newly-appointed conference member Covenant College. The Lions gathered losses from the first two in 2012 and an overtime loss against the Covenant Scots in 2011. With the right conference record, the Lions will find themselves in conference play beginning November 2nd.
Piedmont is coming off of a 6-10-2 season in 2012. Overall, the Lions will play eight of seventeen games in the friendly confines of Walker Athletic Complex.
Coach Stephens is looking forward to the opportunities ahead, especially with a healthy roster. The Lions graduated just a pair of seniors from the 2012 roster, and return a great deal of depth and experience. Senior Justin Whitaker, a playmaker for the Lions in the midfield, and senior defender Stephen Sherfy return to lead the Lions into the 2013 season. Rising junior Rojelio Navarette will be another key player in the midfield after being named a USA South All-Conference selection last year.