JMU mens soccer

JMU men's soccer hopes to capitalize off of an Elite Eight run in the 2018 NCAA Men's Soccer Tournament. 

After a successful spring season for JMU athletics, the Dukes are preparing for the start of the fall 2019 season. As summer is in full effect, JMU’s fall teams are preparing to continue its success from last year. Here are the biggest games for JMU sports.

Football

JMU football’s season kicks off on August 31, when JMU travels to Morgantown, West Virginia, to take on the West Virginia Mountaineers — the first game of the Curt Cignetti era. The matchup with the Big 12 opponent is an opportunity to show the country that the Dukes can contend with a top FBS school while also serving as a tune-up game for the rest of the season. JMU is 3-2 in season openers over the last five seasons, including a victory over FBS school East Carolina in 2017. Last season, JMU averaged 33.9 points per game while limiting its opponents to 14.6 points per game.

The Dukes kick off CAA play when they take on conference-rival Elon. Head coach Curt Cignetti will return to the Phoenix for the first time since becoming JMU’s head coach. The Dukes will look to avenge last year’s 27-24 defeat at the hands of the Phoenix, as they want to begin conference play with a much-needed victory.

Cignetti’s jump to conference-rival JMU will give Elon’s players extra motivation to hand it’s former coach a loss in his return, while JMU doesn’t want to lose to Elon for the second straight season. The conference opener could have major implications to the CAA Championship for both teams, as a loss could eliminate either team from title contention.

Men’s Soccer

JMU men’s soccer is looking to build on its impressive season after reaching the 2018 NCAA Tournament quarterfinals. The Dukes begin conference play when they host Hofstra in the JMU Invitational. Last season, the Dukes finished with a 6-2 conference record, including a 2-0 win over the Pride during the regular season. JMU defeated Hofstra in the CAA Tournament championship via penalties to secure the program’s sixth conference title.

JMU’s biggest challenge of the season will take place on September 17 when it hosts national powerhouse Wake Forest at Sentara Park. The second-ranked Demon Deacons finished last season with a 13-3 record and defeated notable teams such as Duke, Indiana, Virginia Tech North Carolina State and U. Va. Like JMU, Wake Forest made the NCAA Tournament before being knocked out by Akron, who made it to the championship game. For JMU to score the upset, it will have to limit Wake Forest’s offense, who finished second in the nation in scoring last season.

Women’s Soccer

JMU women’s soccer will begin its season on August 22 when it takes on Georgetown. This season, the Dukes will play seven teams that made the NCAA Tournament last season.

The first of the seven teams it’ll play will be Georgetown on August 22. The Big East power finished with a 21-1-3 record last season and made it to the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament. Last season, the Hoyas averaged 2.12 goals per game and limited their opponents to 0.40 goals per game. This early season matchup will be a great test for the Dukes to show the country they can play with a national championship contender.

The biggest conference matchup of the season will be the game against the two-time defending champion Hofstra Pride on October 10. Last season, JMU defeated Hofstra 1-0 and won the CAA regular season championship while Hofstra won the CAA Tournament. The Pride averaged 1.70 goals per game, while the Dukes 1.50 goals per game. This matchup could impact who will win the conference. Despite losing a number of seniors, JMU has a talent core of underclassmen, such as junior forward/midfielder Ginger Deel and sophomore defender Sarah Gordon to help bring it back to the CAA Championship Game.

Volleyball

JMU volleyball is coming off a 22-7 (13-3 CAA) season and begins play against Virginia Tech. Its toughest test will be against Florida at the Gator Invitational in Gainesville, Florida. The Dukes will look to continue their dominance at home, having a near perfect record of 11-1.

Playing a team that made the NCAA Volleyball Championships is a huge test for the Dukes. JMU did face an SEC opponent last season, defeating Missouri 3-1. A victory over the highly ranked Gators would be an impressive feat for the program and gives the Dukes momentum riding into conference play.

The conference matchup between JMU and Hofstra on October 20 will be the biggest conference game. Although the Dukes won their matchup between the Pride, they earned the No. 2 seed in the CAA Tournament where they fell to the Pride.

Field Hockey

JMU field hockey looks to rebound from a tough season and make it back to the CAA Tournament. Although the Dukes finished with a sub- .500 record in the conference, they made the tournament as the No. 4 seed and were defeated 8-1 by top-seeded Delaware.

The Dukes enter the season with a tough non-conference slate where they will play top teams such as Ohio State, Maryland, American and the defending national champions, North Carolina. Last season, JMU finished with a 4-7 record against opponents outside its conference.

The Dukes will host the reigning champion Tar Heels on September 29; last year’s contest was canceled due to inclement weather. Entering the season as the number one team in the country, North Carolina went undefeated last season, going 6-0 on the road and putting up 4.48 goals per game.

Regardless of where JMU stands entering the final game of the season, it finishes the season with a road rematch against Delaware on November 3. The Blue Hens swept the season series against the Dukes in 2018 and outscored JMU 14-1 in both contests.

CORRECTION (6/19 at 4:01 p.m.): The article previously stated JMU women's soccer would face four teams that reached the 2018 NCAA Women's Soccer Tournament. The Dukes will face seven. The first match against a team that reached the tournament is in JMU's season opener against Georgetown. 

Contact Jason Clampitt at clampijt@dukes.jmu.edu. For more sports coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.