From the HCC sports desk:
BEL AIR, Md.—The Harford men’s soccer team will kick-off the 2009 season on August 28 as they host Northern Virginia for a 6:00 p.m. game at Harford Stadium, head coach Barry Wilson recently announced with the release of the 2009 schedule.
The Fighting Owls’ 19-game schedule is highlighted by nine teams with winning records, including one district champion, two region champions, three region runners-up, two regular-season conference champions and four teams which finished in the top 15 in the final NJCAA national polls.
The Owls will host the Raiders’ in their season home-opener as NOVA begins a transition to intercollegiate play after participating in the Northern Virginia Soccer League, before hosting Division-III Region XX runner-up Prince George’s in the conference opener on September 1 and taking to the road for the first time on September 3 when they will face Region XIX opponent Gloucester.
The Owls will see a total of six non-conference games during the 2009 season and will see three opponents they have never faced before.
“There are some notable colleges that we don’t meet this season, and three new colleges we’ve never met so it’ll be a bit of an unknown quantity for us,” Wilson said. “In the last two years we’ve built a reputation as being well organized and difficult to break down, so I’m not surprised to see some colleges avoid us. Nobody rolls us over like they have in years gone by; people don’t enjoy playing us anymore and that’s exactly how we like it. [The non-conference games] come as a bit of a change from the MDJUCO competition, and allow us to test ourselves outside of the Maryland ‘bubble’.”
Harford’s Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference (MDJUCO) schedule continues on September 5, when it hosts Hagerstown before seeing five straight matches on the road, four of them conference opponents, against Cecil (Sept. 9), CCBC-Catonsville (Sept. 11), Howard (Sept. 15) and defending Region XX and Mid-Atlantic District champion and 2008 D-I No. 10 CCBC-Essex (Sept. 19). The Owls will also face non-conference opponent Burlington, the Region XIX regular-season champion, on September 14.
“In the MDJUCO games [CCBC] Essex and [College of] Southern Maryland will, as always, be expecting to fight for top spot,” Wilson said. “We’re targeting that third place spot, and there’s no reason why we can’t achieve that, even though we’ll face some stiff competition.”
Following the five-game roadstand, the Owls will endure a five-game homestand, which includes conference games against Frederick (Sept. 25), D-III Region XX semifinalist and No. 13 Anne Arundel (Sept. 30) and Chesapeake (Oct. 2) as well as non-conference matches versus Valley Forge Military (Sept. 23) and Delaware County (Sept. 28).
Harford will see three more away games beginning with Region XIX runner-up Delaware Tech-Stanton on October 4, before the Owls travel to Region XX runner-up and D-I No. 9 College of Southern Maryland for a rematch of the 2008 Region XX semifinal on October 6. An October 10 match-up at Allegany will complete the roadstand for Harford before wrapping up the conference season at home with an October 14 game against D-III district runner-up, Region XX champion and No. 7 Montgomery College-Rockville.
The Owls are tentatively scheduled to wrap the regular season on October 17 with a game against Salem before participating in the Region XX tournament which commences on October 24 with the play-in round and continues with the semifinals and championship game on October 28 and 31, which will be held at Harford Stadium.
The Mid-Atlantic District Final is scheduled for November 7, with location yet to be announced, while the NJCAA Division I National Tournament will be held from November 19-22 in Trenton, N.J.