The Central Arkansas women’s soccer team faces a new challenge in the 2021-2022 season as it joins the ASUN conference.
The Bears face a 19-game schedule which includes 10 away matches and nine home matches.
The Bears will have five away matches in ASUN play, and will travel to opponents in Florida, Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee.
A total of eight starters return for the Bears.
UCA added multiple newcomers, which includes two new goalkeepers and a handful of talented freshmen ready to compete. Central Arkansas returns the attacking threat of Emma Hawkins as well as the midfield trio of Abby Gibson, Hadley Dickinson and Anika Sultan.
Defenders Gracie Hair, Taylor Webb and Alyssa Aultman return as well.
“Looking at the upcoming season, we are excited about the change, new opponents, new locations and new opportunities,” head coach Jeremy Bishop said. “The ASUN is a very difficult league, but we are looking forward to the challenge.”
The Bears open up their season Aug. 15 at home against Southeast Missouri State.
The squad then travels out west for the first of a four match away stint, which includes matches against Arizona State, Grand Canyon University, ULM and Little Rock.
Four of the final five non-conference matches take place at the Bill Stephens Complex including matches against Tulsa, ORU, Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Arkansas State.
Rounding the non-conference schedule is an away trip to Grambling State.
The ASUN opens conference play Sept. 23, as the Bears travel to Jacksonville, Florida, for a two match stint against Jacksonville and North Florida.
The away stint allows the Bears to host the following three matches as they host Kennesaw State, Liberty and Jacksonville State.
On Oct. 10, the Bears travel to Alabama for an away match against North Alabama before returning home for the final time of the season against Eastern Kentucky.
The final two matches for Central Arkansas are on the road against Bellarmine out of Louisville, Kentucky and Lipscomb out of Nashville, Tennessee.
“We were highly competitive last season, especially when we had our full roster available,” Bishop said. “So to build on last year we will need to stay healthy and be a bit better in the final thirds of the field. We will create opportunities to score, and we will limit our opponents. We will have to be consistently good in those moments to have a big success in terms of match results this season.”
The Bears face 10 opponents for the first time in Central Arkansas history this season, which includes eight from the ASUN Conference.