Men’s soccer to host Big South Challenge

Trevor McNaboe

The regular season is finally here for the Georgia Southern University men’s soccer team as it kicks off the 2013 season on Friday against Big South opponent, the Winthrop University Eagles.

The Eagles have been through two weeks of preseason camp, two preseason road games and a week of full practice to get ready as they host the Southern Conference/Big South Challenge.

Four teams will be participating in this weekend event as Wofford College will join GSU as the representatives from the SoCon while Winthrop and Gardner-Webb University will represent the Big South Conference.

The last time both GSU and WU met was one year ago in the same tournament with GSU edging out the opposing Eagles by a score of 3-2.

This year WU is tagged to finish fifth in its respective conference even after a winning record of 12-9-2 last season, while the Eagles are expected to finish in third in the SoCon.

WU will have two of its top scorers back, with senior forwards Mason Lavallet and Achille Obougou. The pair combined for 14 goals, five assists and 33 points last season. GSU will need a strong performance defensively to give them a chance to win.

The Eagles are returning to the main core of their team and will be led by five seniors spread throughout the field.

Along with that, GSU has two preseason All-Southern Conference selections in senior midfielder Hunter Norton and his younger brother sophomore defender Reed Norton.

After the WU game the Eagles will have to bounce back quickly on one day of rest and play Gardner-Webb University on Sunday.

The GWU Running Bulldogs are coming off a tough 4-14-2 season last year and are looking to avenge a 2-0 loss they suffered at the hands of the Eagles last year.

One advantage for GSU is that GWU has not won against the Eagles since Oct. 10, 2009, spanning a four-year dry spell. Another advantage is that the Running Bulldogs only had one win on the road last year as they went 1-9-2 away from friendly confines.

GWU had trouble scoring last year so the Eagles will look to exploit the lack of offense with more aggressive play to get ahead early and stay ahead for a good result.

After this weekend of games, the Eagles will be on a three week long set of road games that come to a total of five games played before GSU returns to Eagle field on Sept. 24.

GSU opens under the lights on Friday at 7:30 p.m., coming right after GWU and Wofford faceoff, which begins at 5 p.m.