Harding Men's Soccer starts season at Williams Baptist Thursday

From Harding University

The Harding men's soccer team opens its 13th season of intercollegiate competition Thursday against Williams Baptist in Walnut Ridge, Ark. The game at the WBC Soccer Field will begin at 4:30 p.m.

The 2012 season will bring some firsts for the Bisons. The game against Williams Baptist will be the first as a head coach for the Bisons' Odie Guzman. A 2008 graduate and four-year letterwinner for the Harding soccer team from 2005-08, Guzman has spent the last two seasons as an assistant at Lubbock Christian.

The Bisons will also enter their first season as a member of the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA). Harding joins seven other schools in the newly-formed men's soccer conference's first season.

Harding and Williams Baptist have met nine times previously with the Bisons leading the series 8-1. Williams Baptist's only win came 3-2 in Searcy in 2010. Thursday's matchup will be only the third in Walnut Ridge. Harding won the previous two 4-1 in 2001 and 7-1 in 2003.

Harding will send a 20-man travel squad to Walnut Ridge, seven of whom are returning starters from last season. Outside midfielder Ryan Wilhelm had four goals and four assists in 2011 and returns for his junior season.

Sophomore Will Lynn, who played in three games off the bench last season, will likely receive the start at goalkeeper for Harding. He played just over 125 minutes, made six saves and did not allow a goal last season as a redshirt freshman.

Williams Baptist is a member of the NAIA American Midwest Conference. Last season the Eagles finished 7-10-0.

Live statistics will be available at a link on HardingSports.com.