PRINCETON, N.J. -- The 57th season of Ivy League men’s soccer gets underway this weekend as the Ancient Eight begin their respective non-conference slates. Friday will be a particularly busy day around the League as seven of the eight squads play season openers, with Harvard following with its first game on Sunday afternoon.
The weekend’s schedule includes a pair of tournaments as Brown plays in the second annual Ocean State Soccer Classic and Princeton takes part in the College of Charleston’s NIKE/Aaron Olitsky Memorial Soccer Classic.
Local bragging rights will also be on the line as Brown opens the Ocean State Classic versus rival Providence, Penn plays cross-town foes La Salle and Saint Joseph’s, Yale plays host to CCSU, Cornell hosts Niagara and Harvard plays host to Northeastern.
Also of note, 20th-ranked Dartmouth will play one the weekend’s marquee games as it welcomes 25th-ranked Boston College to Hanover on Sunday.
Coming off a 2010 season in which four Ivy League teams appeared in the NCAA Championship for the second consecutive season - including Dartmouth and Brown advancing to the final 16 - the race for the 2011 Ivy League men’s soccer title will be a tightly contested battle.
As the 2011 season gets underway, the Ivies will be looking to build upon collective success in non-conference action they had a season ago, culminating in a strong showing in the NCAA Championship. With Brown, Dartmouth and Penn winning first round games last year, 2010 saw three Ivy League teams advance to the second round of play for the first time since 1973.
Princeton will be looking to defend the Ivy League title after winning the 2010 championship by posting a 7-0-0 mark in League play. Dating back to the 2009 season, the Tigers carry a nine game winning streak and a 12-game unbeaten streak in Ivy games.
On an individual level, the League boasts many players to watch, led by 2010 Ivy League Player of the Year and Princeton Tiger Antoine Hoppenot as well as first team All-Ivy defender and Penn Quaker Thomas Brandt. The duo has been named to the 2011 Missouri Athletic Club’s Hermann Trophy Watch List. Also of note, Brandt and Columbia’s Mike Mazzullo were named two of the 30 candidates for the 2011 Men’s Soccer Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award.
In fact, Hoppenot is just one of an impressive stable of strikers that can be seen around the League this season as all six first and second team 2010 All-Ivy forwards are slated to return to lead their respective front lines in 2011.
Lucky Mkosana also returns for his senior season. Last year, Mkosana started each of Dartmouth’s 20 games and scored five goals and added three assists. The 2008 Ivy League Rookie of the Year has a chance to become just the sixth player in Ivy history to earn four All-Ivy first team honors.
The other 2010 first team All-Ivy forward returnee is Brown’s Sean Rosa, who netted six goals and added five assists for a team-high 17 points last season. Last season’s All-Ivy second team forwards include current juniors Brian Rogers of Harvard and Matt Sanner of Princeton as well as Penn sophomore Stephen Baker.
Friday, September 2
1 - #11 Brown at Providence, Noon
CCSU at Yale, 3 pm
Penn at La Salle, 7 pm
Columbia at Fairfield, 7 pm
Niagara at Cornell, 7 pm
#20 Dartmouth at Holy Cross, 7:30 pm
2 - Princeton at Col. of Charleston, 7:30 pm
Sunday, September 4
2 - Princeton vs. Furman, Noon
Yale at Lehigh, 1 pm
Sacred Heart at Columbia, 3 pm
#25 Boston College at #20 Dartmouth, 3 pm
Saint Joseph’s at Penn, 5:30 pm
Northeastern at Harvard, 7 pm
Monday, September 5
1 - #11 Brown vs. URI/Bryant, TBA
Tuesday, September 6
Saint Peter’s at Columbia, 7 pm
Lafayette at Cornell, 7 pm
1 - Ocean State Soccer Classic (Providence and Kingston, R.I.)
2 - NIKE/Aaron Olitsky Memorial Soccer Classic (Charleston, S.C.)