CHICAGO, Ill. – The Illinois Tech men's soccer team will embark on a new era this Fall, heading into its first year of competition as full NCAA Division III members in the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference. With the new affiliations comes a 19-match schedule featuring 10 home contests, 11 NACC matches, and the chance at postseason play.
"It is exciting for our players to join a conference and begin new rivalries within NCAA Division III," said Head Coach Marc Colwell. "We return 26 players from last year's team that finished with 14 wins, so we are ready for the challenge of a new conference."
Before jumping into NACC play, the Scarlet Hawks will prep themselves with a challenging non-conference slate. After preseason scrimmages at home against Prairie State on August 19 and University of Chicago (last year's third-ranked team in the United Soccer Coaches D3 Poll) on August 22, the Scarlet Hawks open the regular season schedule at Stuart Field on Friday, August 31 at 7:00 p.m. against Ripon College. It marks the fifth straight year Tech will oppose the Wisconsin school.
Tech follows up the Ripon match against arguably its toughest opponent of the season: 2017 National Runner-Up North Park University (Sunday, September 2). The Vikings finished last season with a 19-3-2 record and ranked second in the final United Soccer Coaches Division III poll, falling 2-1 in the National Championship match against Messiah College.
After the North Park test, Tech will play four more non-conference matches: three on the road (September 7 at Beloit, September 11 at Grace Christian, and September 16 at MacMurray ), and the Chicago Cup Series at home on Friday, September 14 against Moody Bible. These games will give way to the conference opener at home against Aurora University on Wednesday, September 19.
Tech's first three games in NACC play come against teams who reached the Conference Tournament a season ago. After taking on Aurora, the Scarlet Hawks will play at last year's NACC Championship game runner-up, Milwaukee School of Engineering, on September 22. Four days later, the Scarlet Hawks will make the short drive to the third-seed in last year's six-team tournament, Benedictine University.
The Scarlet Hawks will then return home for three straight home matches: two NACC contests (Wisconsin Lutheran on September 29 and Concordia-Chicago on October 3) sandwiching a non-conference tilt with North Central College on September 30. Tech will also play a home non-conference contest against Maranatha Baptist (October 8) in between two NACC road matches (October 6 at Rockford University, October 10 at Marian).
Illinois Tech's home regular season schedule wraps-up in mid-October. After a home NACC match against Concordia-Wisconsin on October 13, Senior Night will be on October 17 against Lakeland University.
Two NACC road matches will follow. After an October 21st tilt at Edgewood, the Scarlet Hawks will travel to last year's NACC Tournament Champions and NCAA Qualifier: Dominican University.
If the Scarlet Hawks finish with one of the six-best conference records in the 12-team league, Tech will qualify for the NACC Tournament. The tournament's quarterfinal round is slated for Sunday, October 28, which precedes the Semifinals (Wednesday, October 31) and the Tournament Championship (Saturday, November 3). All games in the tournament will be played at the highest seed. The NACC Tournament champion, along with any selected at-large bids from the conference, will qualify for the NCAA Division III Tournament.
Illinois Tech men's soccer is coming off a strong season, finishing 14-5-1 overall with a .725 win percentage. The 14 wins doubled the program's 2016 total (seven) and the .725% mark is the team's best since finishing 14-4 (.778%) in 2008. All home matches this year are expected to have live audio, video, and statistics. All live audio will be powered by Illinois Media School.
The Scarlet Hawks will also play a five-match varsity reserve schedule, which can be found here. Live coverage will not be available for varsity reserve contests.