RICHMOND, Va. – Virginia Commonwealth University Head Men's Soccer Coach Dave Giffard has repeatedly stated he wants to turn the program into one of the best in college soccer.

In order to do that, Giffard knows you have to play the best teams in the country and that's exactly what he did with the 2010 schedule with the Rams playing three of the four teams that reached the NCAA Men's Soccer College Cup last year.

"The schedule was all but done when we arrived, but with the few open dates left, we wanted to challenge our team with some of the best college soccer has to offer," Giffard said.  "As we begin the process of building VCU Soccer back into a national contender, there will be many new experiences along the way.  The opening two games and the home game with Carolina are an important part of the evolution of our program."

Just three days into the preseason, Giffard will take the Black & Gold up I-64 West to take on the reigning National Champions in the University Virginia (August 20th) in an exhibition contest. Five days later, they travel to the National Runner-Up in the University of Akron (August 25th) for another exhibition contest.

"We wanted to challenge our guys right out of the gate and by playing last year's title game participants we're definitely doing that," Giffard said. 

The regular season opens with the annual VCU Tournament.  The Rams will be hosting Old Dominion, Coastal Carolina and Florida Gulf Coast with games on Saturday, September 4th and Monday, September 6th.

Giffard takes his squad on the road for the first time the following weekend to compete in the Coastal Carolina Invitational.  VCU returns to the Commonwealth, where the Rams hit the road to take on in-state rivals Richmond and Longwood.

The Huskies of Northeastern University visit SportsBackers Stadium on September 25th to open up VCU's Colonial Athletic Association schedule, before they head to Georgia State and George Mason for their first conference road games.

"The CAA has always been one of the top soccer conferences in the country.  I expect this year to be no different.  The quality of both coaches and players will present a stiff challenge."

Other home conference games include visits from Old Dominion (Oct. 6th), Hofstra (Oct. 9th), UNC Wilmington (Oct. 20th) and Drexel University (Oct. 23rd).

The third College Cup participant North Carolina wraps up the Rams' home schedule as the Tar Heels come to Richmond on Oct. 26th for a 7 p.m. contest at SportsBackers Stadium.

Road conference games wrap up the 2010 regular season schedule with dates at Towson (Oct. 31st), James Madison (Nov. 3rd) and Delaware (Nov. 7th).