Dayton, Tenn. – Bryan College Head Women's Soccer Coach, Paul Babba, has announced the 2017 Lady Lions Soccer schedule, which is slated to have their preseason begin on Aug. 16 by hosting Southern States Athletic Conference foe Dalton State University (Ga.) for a scrimmage and follow with their only other scrimmage before the start of regular-season at NCAA opponent Lee University (Tenn.) on Aug. 23.
The Lion's schedule consists of 17 games, with nine taking place at home and eight on the road. Bryan will travel to Freed-Hardeman University (Tenn.) on Aug. 31 and face-off with the Bears of University of Pikeville (Ky.) at 5pm on day one of the Freed-Hardeman Lions Cup to kick-off the 2017 season, before battling the host school at 2pm on Sept. 2 to finish up tournament play.
Fellow Appalachian Athletic Conference school, Reinhardt University (Ga.) will be the first team that Bryan is challenged by that either received votes or ranked in the top-25 in the 2016 postseason poll. Reinhardt took the AAC regular-season crown, upset the No. 3 team in the country during the NAIA Tournament, but eventually had their run end in the quarterfinals which proved good enough for the 11th spot in the final poll. The Lions meet with conference rival, Tennessee Wesleyan University, for the first game of October. The Bulldogs and Lions clashed in the AAC Tournament Championship Game, but Tennessee Wesleyan prevailed, punched their ticket to the national tournament, and wrapped up the season receiving votes. The other top-25 team that Bryan will take on is Mid-South Conference opponent, 15th-ranked Cumberland University Phoenix, who will travel to Dayton for the Lion's last game of the regular-season. The 2017 NAIA Women's Soccer Coaches' Top-25 Preseason Poll will be released mid-August.
After wrapping up play at the Freed-Hardeman tournament, Bryan returns home Sept. 5 for their home opener with NCAA Div. II Shorter University (Ga.) at 4:30pm. Three days later, the Lions continue play at home as they host another NCAA opponent in Oglethorpe University (Ga.) on Sept. 8. Bryan ends the three-game stretch of Georgia schools with a visit to Mid-South Conference member, Life University (Ga.), on Sept. 13. The Knights of St. Andrews University (N.C.) will make the long trip from Laurinburg, N.C. to the Bryan campus on Sept. 16 for the Lion's conference opener, slated for 4:30pm. AAC action continues for the rest of the season until the last game against Cumberland University. The Lions stay home to play the skilled Reinhardt Eagles, before going to Columbia College (S.C.) Sept. 23. Bryan then has a two-game stretch at home with Union College (Ky.) the 26th and Bluefield College the 30th. For the Lady Lions, October begins at Tennessee Wesleyan on the 4th. Brenau University (Ga.) is a new addition to the AAC this year, and Bryan hosts the Golden Tigers the 7th. Milligan College (Tenn.) gets the home-field advantage the 10th, and so does Montreat College (N.C.) the 14th. The final home conference game of the season will be versus Truett McConnell University (Ga.) on the 17th. The Skyhawks of Point University (Ga.) will try to soar past the Lions on the 24th in their final AAC match of the regular-season. Bryan's end of the regular-season and Senior Day is at home against Cumberland University on the 27th at 4pm.
"We are pretty happy with the schedule we have put together for the 2017 competitive season," said Coach Babba. A lot of thought and consideration went into the schedule as the Lion's second-year coach proved knowledgeable for what it takes to extend post-season play after advancing to the AAC Tournament title game in just his first year at the helm of the program. Babba explained, "It is always our goal to make sure that we put together a schedule that will challenge our team and help us prepare for what we hope will be a deep post-season run. Our early games against non-conference opponents will help us prepare for our challenging conference schedule."
The Lions will be tested this season as they vie for a top spot in the AAC, getting a chance to see several elite NAIA teams. "We are also excited to be competing against two nationally ranked opponents in Reinhardt University and Cumberland University," remarked Babba.
In his first season, Coach Babba, and the Lions worked their way to a 10-10-2 overall record and conference record of 5-5, which is the winningest season in recorded history, as well as garnering Runner-Up in the AAC Tournament.
To view the full 2017 women's soccer schedule, click here.