App State men's soccer

BOONE — The Appalachian State men’s soccer team has announced its 2019 schedule. The 17-game slate includes 11 regular season home matches and five contests against 2018 NCAA Tournament teams.

For the second time since joining the league, the Mountaineers will host the Sun Belt Tournament from Nov. 13-17 at the Ted Mackorell Soccer Complex. App State hosted the championship in 2015.

“We are thrilled about the upcoming season,” head coach Jason O’Keefe said in a statement. “We will be tested and challenged tremendously by this schedule. It will make us a better team and program this year and in the future.”

The 2019 campaign opens with three exhibitions beginning at 6 p.m on Aug. 16 as the Mountaineers host Lincoln Memorial. App State will then travel to Campbell, an NCAA Tournament team a season ago, on Aug. 19 and Winthrop on Aug. 24 to wrap up exhibition play.

Appalachian kicks off the regular season with a five-game homestand, including its second NCAA Tournament opponent. The Mountaineers went 4-1-2 at home in 2018. The four wins were the most on their home turf since 2015.

Big East foe St. John’s makes the trip to Boone, serving as the regular season home opener, is set for a 7 p.m. kickoff on Aug. 30. The Mountaineers have a quick turnaround, hosting Loyola just two days later at 7 p.m. on Sept. 1.

“To have a program like St. John’s, who have won a National Championship, open the season here at Ted Mackorell soccer complex is amazing,” O’Keefe said in a statement. “Then to play Patriot League champions Loyola will be a fantastic way to open the season and showcase some great teams for our fan base.”

George Mason (Sept. 6), American (Sept. 8), and High Point (Sept. 14) round out the Mountaineers’ homestand. High Point finished the 2018 season 13-3-2, advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history.

App State hits the road on Sept. 17 for match at Elon, followed by match at UNC-Greensboro on Sept. 21. The Mountaineers return home on Sept. 25 and Oct. 1 for matches against UNC-Asheville and East Tennessee State, respectively.

Conference play begins on Oct. 6 as the Mountaineers head to Conway, Ark. to face Central Arkansas. This fall will be the Bears’ first season in the Sun Belt, coming off of a 2018 campaign that featured a regular season title, a conference tournament title and back-to-back NCAA appearances in their last season as an affiliate member of the Missouri Valley Conference.

“The Sun Belt schedule will again be very difficult and with the addition of Central Arkansas, it should be wide open and very competitive,” O’Keefe said.

Following the conference opener, App State hosts Howard on Oct. 12 in another Sun Belt battle. Before facing Coastal Carolina at home on Oct. 19, Alabama-Birmingham travels to the High Country to play the Mountaineers on Oct. 16. All three matches are set to begin at 7 p.m.

The final two non-conference matches will take place on the road, with the Mountaineers facing Big Ten opponent Penn State on Oct. 25. That match will be followed by a match at in-state foe North Carolina on Oct. 29.

UNC posted a 14-4-1 mark in 2018, en route to an ACC Coastal Division title, a trip to the ACC Tournament championship match and an NCAA Tournament appearance.

The 2019 regular season comes to a close with the Mountaineers at Georgia Southern on Nov. 2, followed by a home match against reigning Sun Belt Champion Georgia State on Nov. 9. The focus then turns to the Sun Belt Tournament beginning Nov. 13.

The Mountaineers return to the pitch this fall after ending the 2018 season as the conference’s top defensive team with seven shutouts. App State posted its highest finish in the Sun Belt and tallied seven All-Sun Belt selections

The Mountaineers finished 8-5-3 in the regular season, marking O’Keefe’s best record since joining the squad in 2016.

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