BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) The UVM men's soccer team is headed down to North Carolina this weekend for a pair of games against Elon and ACC power Duke, the 10th ranked team in the United Soccer coaches preseason poll. Over the last three seasons, Vermont has established itself as a force in the America East, taking one conference tournament and one regular season conference title to go along with two trips to the NCAA Tournament.
That regular season crown came last year, but a heartbreaking defeat in the conference semifinals prevented the Cats from making a third straight appearance in NCAAs.
UVM is poised to make a run at earning a bid this year, with their four leading scorers all returning from a year ago. But if you ask them, that's far from their loftiest goal.
"Last season, I think we did pretty well," said senior captain Mikel Kabala. "But this year, with the guys that we have returning and the new guys coming in, I think that our expectations are a little higher. We don't want to just go into the playoffs, but we actually want to win it and go into the NCAA Tournament and actually have a good run."
"The message has been we lost to Albany and that isn't good enough," said head coach Rob Dow. "I felt like our season, and the whole team felt like our season fell short. So our mission and our goal for this season is to compete for a national championship, be in the NCAA Tournament. And everyone is centralized on that vision. You see this out here today and I was happy with the boys. They're super competitive and they're reaching levels I think that you can play in big games."
The Cats open their season Friday evening at 5 p.m. in Durham, N.C. against Elon.