By: Jill Wunrow (@JillWunrow)
GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - The Green Bay men's soccer team kicks off regular season play for the 2012 season Friday, Aug. 24 when it hosts Northern Kentucky at 7 p.m. at Aldo Santaga Stadium. The contest begins the longest homestand of the season for the Phoenix, which starts with three straight for the first time since 1981. Green Bay will host Marquette Sunday at 3 p.m. in a contest which will be rebroadcast on Time Warner Cable Sports32 Monday, Aug. 27 at 7 p.m.
Friday's game will be the first meeting between the Phoenix and Northern Kentucky and the head coaching debut of Dan Popik who was hired at Green Bay June 18. Popik is assisted by Logan Hoffman and former Green Bay player Lati Ziba.
Green Bay finished exhibition play with a 3-1 win over UW-Parkside and 5-0 shutout win over St. Joseph's College. The Phoenix scored a combined total of eight goals while holding its opponents to one. Green Bay was lead in scoring by junior Sam Krenzien (Wauwatosa, Wis.) who scored a combined four goals, including a hat trick against St. Joseph's College.
The Phoenix also outshot its opponents 40-19 while goalie Ryan Wehking (St. Louis, Mo.) registered seven saves.
SCOUTING NORTHERN KENTUCKY... This season marks Northern Kentucky's first at the NCAA Division I level. The Norse advanced to the second round of the NCAA's Division 2 men's soccer tournament in 2011 before ending their season with a 14-5 record.
Northern Kentucky enters Friday's contest against the Phoenix coming off a 2-2 draw against Kentucky in exhibition play Aug. 17 in front of a record-crowd 1,206 fans.
Junior Mohammad Salhieh led the Norse in 2011 with five assists and five goals in addition to scoring one goal in NKU's exhibition game against Kentucky. Keeper Ben Dorn will be in the net for the Norse after recording five shutouts in 2011 and posting a goals-allowed average of just 0.69.
SCOUTING MARQUETTE... For the first time since 2007 Green Bay will battle Marquette on the soccer field as it hosts the Golden Eagles Sunday, Aug. 26 at 3 p.m. at Aldo Santaga Stadium. Green Bay owns an overall record of 21-13-4 over the Golden Eagles with two consecutive impressive matches against the in-state opponent. In the last meeting Sept. 9, 2007 the result was a 1-1 overtime tie and on Sept. 5, 2006 the Phoenix shut out Marquette 2-0 at Aldo Santaga Stadium.
Marquette enters its 2012 campaign returning eight starters after earning the 2011 Big East Blue division title with a 7-2-0 record. The Golden Eagles enter the season ranked No. 33 in the country by TopDrawerSoccer.com and No. 34 by College Sports Madness.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR... Wehking has started 57 of 58 games throughout his collegiate career with the Phoenix and is currently tied atop Green Bay's individual career record list with 19 shutouts, one shy of having sole possession of the record.
A win Friday would mark the seventh consecutive regular season win for the Phoenix at Aldo Santaga Stadium which began Sept. 18, 2011 with a 2-1 double overtime win over Dayton in the Green Bay Soccer Classic.
2011 IN REVIEW...The Phoenix returns 13 players from its 2011 roster which finished with an overall record of 11-7-1 and a fourth place finish in the Horizon League with a 5-3-0 record, advancing to the semifinals of the Horizon League Tournament. Current sophomore Kirby Allen (Appleton, Wis.) was a Horizon League All-Newcomer Team selection and this season is a College Sports Madness Horizon Second Team All-Conference preseason selection.
ABOUT HEAD COACH DAN POPIK...Popik brings seven years of coaching experience on various levels in addition to six years of playing experience at the professional level. Rated among College Soccer News' Top-20 Assistant coaches in 2011, Popik spent the 2011 season as the associate head coach at Furman University, helping the Paladins to a 14-4-4 record and the program's first at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Popik also served as the associate head coach and assistant coach at North Carolina State University (2005-10).
Popik's six years playing at the professional level included stints with the Columbus Crew (2006), Los Angeles Galaxy (2004-05) and Milwaukee Rampage (2000-03). Popik's wife Jodie hails from Menomonee Falls, Wis. and the couple has a four-year old son, Gavin.
FOLLOW THE ACTION LIVE... Fans can track live stats of Friday's regular season opener against Northern Kentucky on GreenBayPhoenix.com or follow on Twitter here. Friday's game will not be available on live video stream but Sunday's contest against Marquette can be watched live on Phoenix Flix.
POPIK'S TOPIKS... Be sure to check out Popik's Topiks with head coach Dan Popik every Wednesday on GreenBayPhoenix.com for the latest insights on Green Bay's upcoming opponents and recent contests. You can watch this week's episode of Popik's Topiks here.
NEXT ON THE SCHEDULE... Green Bay will wrap up its three-game homestand Friday, Aug. 31 as it hosts Northern Illinois at 6 p.m. at Aldo Santaga Stadium. The Phoenix will then play its following four contests on the road beginning at Niagara Sept. 2.
For the latest and most up-to-date information on Green Bay Athletics, please visit GreenBayPhoenix.com.