Opponent Preview: Aces and Owls kick things off for men’s soccer

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Photo credit: UVU Athletics

With the start of a new semester, UVU men’s soccer opens up at home on Aug. 24 against the University of Evansville Purple Aces. A short three days later, UVU will have their second home match against the Florida Atlantic University Owls. Missing out on the WAC tournament in the previous season, the Wolverines will be looking to get things started on the right foot.

Utah Valley University vs Evansville University

Where: Orem, Utah

When: Friday, Aug. 24 at 7 p.m.

Quick Glance: University of Evansville

Nickname: Purple Aces

Location: Evansville, Ind.

Conference: Missouri Valley Conference 2017 season: 11-8-2 (overall), 3-4-1 (conference), 7-2-1 (home), 3-6-0 (away), 1-1 (MVC tournament).

The Purple Aces’ previous season ended in heartbreak, much like the season finale for UVU. UE won a nailbiter in their opening conference tournament game against Loyola, beating them 1-0, but barely fell short in their following matchup against Missouri State. Both teams went the full 90 minutes and two rounds of overtime scoreless before Missouri State eked out a 6-5 victory in penalty kicks.

UE starts their season off with two back-to-back exhibition games, their first happening on Aug. 18 at Louisville, and then a quick trip back to Evansville to play Bellarmine the next day. Although exhibitions aren’t usually much to look into, both matchups will be a good way for the Aces to get their feet on the ground for some in-game experience. The potential negative in this situation is dreaded early season injuries, which the Aces will be looking to avoid at all costs.

The Purple Aces have attracted many international transfer students to join their men’s soccer team. Grabbing talent from Denmark, Sweden, Ireland, and Venezuela —UE’s unique roster set isn’t something that UVUshould overlook. Frederik Reimer and Simon Waever, the Aces “Danish Duo”, are UE fan favorites for a reason. With Reimer between the posts and Waever leading the defense, the Wolverines will have to face the defending Danes every trip down the pitch.

UVU’s match against UE should be a good way for the Wolverines to gauge where they are going into the 2018 season. The Purple Aces play in a smaller conference, much like UVU, and finished in a decent spot last season. UVU definitely won’t be seeing this gameas an easy win, as they will take on a team that is a fairly even match.

Utah Valley University vs Florida Atlantic University

Where: Orem, Utah.

When: Monday, Aug. 27 at 7 p.m.

Quick Glance: Florida Atlantic University

Nickname: Owls

Location: Boca Raton, Fla.

Conference: Conference USA2017 season: 2-14 (overall), 2-6 (conference), 1-7 (home), 1-7 (away)

FAU were about as intimidating as their mascot Owlsley last season. The Owls were outscored by opponents 41-11 last season. Along with being outscored by 30 goals overall, they were shut-out in nine of their 16 games and didn’t tie once in the season. Finishing second-to-last in the conference, FAU gave last-placed conference foe University of Alabama at Birmingham their only conference victory in 2017.

The Owls start their season with three exhibition games, all against Florida opponents (Broward College, Nova Southeastern, and UCF). FAU’s first real test will be against UNLV on Aug. 24 in Orem. The Rebels finished 11-9-1 last year, and made it to the semi-finals of the WAC tournament. Three days later, they play in Orem yet again to take on UVU.

FAU host a young squad, with only two returning seniors and 14 incoming freshman. Ferdinand Solberg, the sophomore defender from Norway, shed a bit of light on the previous season for the Owls. Named to the C-USA All-Freshman team last season, Solberg tallied 1,264 minutes on the field and started in 15 of the 16 matches the Owl’s played. He will lead FAU’s defensive squad as a sophomore thisseason, and will hope to improve on an already impressive performance from the previous year.

UVU should be looking to beat FAU when they roll into town —but if the Wolverines have learned anything from last season, they should remember that nothing is guaranteed. UVU only tallied five total wins last season, and had a relatively disappointing season. Although this is a match that UVU should win, they need to make sure they don’t walk away from Clyde Field with a pre-conference loss against the Owls.