FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The memory of eight wins, including four straight at the close of last season, will have Nova Southeastern out to prove it’s a program that has turned the corner when the 2018 campaign kicks into gear on Thursday, Aug. 30 against Mississippi College.
Head coach Matt Watts heads into year No. 3 at the helm after guiding the Sharks to their most wins in a single season since 2010, creating plenty of buzz with a revamped roster and new wave of confidence surrounding the program.
“Every year is different,” said Watts. “What happened last year is gone and we now have to concentrate on our 2018 season. Every coach and team in the country is excited at this time of the year. It’s a good recruiting class and we have some experience from previous seasons, too. I am really excited to have a new, young, group of players in the program and hopefully we can get going a little quicker.”
Nova Southeastern will play nine of its 15 regular-season matches in front of the home crowd at the NSU Soccer Complex in 2018, opening right off the bat with a season-long, three-match home stand. The loaded home slate also includes matchups with 2017 national runner-up Lynn, defending Sunshine State Conference Tournament champion Tampa and an 11-win Mississippi College side.
Following their season debut versus the Choctaws, the Sharks will welcome Watts’ former club Delta State to Fort Lauderdale on Sept. 1 before prepping for the challenge of SSC play with a pair of non-conference clashes against Ave Maria on Sept. 6 and St. Thomas (Fla.) on Sept. 8.
An up-and-down start ultimately hurt the Sharks a year ago, proving how key the opening weeks will be if they are to contend for a spot in the SSC Tournament and their first NCAA Tournament berth in program history.
“If there is one thing our returning players found out last year, it’s that you can’t wait until later on in the season to finally find your footing,” said Watts. “Missing out by a point last year hurt, but we only have ourselves to blame. Playing regional opponents and getting results is always important, and this year is no different. Winning games breeds confidence and freedom, and that’s what we want going into our forever strong SSC schedule. As long as the new guys can adapt and jell, and our more experienced guys can lead and continue the great form they have, I am confident we can make a strong start in the nonconference schedule.”
Nova Southeastern will dive into SSC action on the road at Embry-Riddle, a team it beat 3-2 in last year’s season finale, on Sept. 12. Just three days later, the Sharks will face Tampa in their SSC home opener, followed by a matchup with Flagler to wrap-up non-conference play on Sept. 18.
As the month of October rolls around, Watts and company will be presented with road tests at both Barry (Oct. 3) and Florida Southern (Oct. 6). The schedule shapes up nicely down the stretch, though, as the Sharks’ regular season winds down with home matches in three of their final four games, including a bout with Lynn on Senior Night on Oct. 23.
The 2018 SSC Tournament will be played from Oct. 29 – Nov. 4.
To view the full 2018 Nova Southeastern men’s soccer schedule, CLICK HERE. To stay up-to-date with NSU throughout the season, follow the Sharks on Twitter @NSU_MSoccer.