RICHMOND, Va. – Since joining Ram Nation three years ago, Head Coach Dave Giffard has focused his attention on making the VCU men's soccer program not only a power in the CAA, and now the A-10, but on the national stage.

In order to reach that goal, Giffard knows that the Rams need to face the best of the best.  That's exactly what they will do during their 2012 campaign as VCU is slated to face six NCAA Tournament teams in addition to several other traditional soccer powers.

"We are looking forward to what should be a very challenging fall schedule for year three," Giffard said. "With six teams that participated in the 2011 NCAA Tournament, and several other traditionally strong programs, we will be battled tested for post-season play."

After an exhibition match at UAB on Aug. 18, the Rams will kick-off the 2012 campaign with their annual VCU Invitational. The Black and Gold will host Bucknell on Aug. 24 at 7:30 p.m., and then conclude the tournament with a Sunday matinee against old CAA foe William & Mary on Aug. 26.

VCU will then hit the road for six straight road matches. The Black and Gold begin the trip with two road contests against UMBC on Aug. 30 and Navy on Sept 1.

The Rams then take on Winthrop Sept. 7 and Seton Hall on Sept. 9 as part of Old Dominion's Stihl Classic, before invading the Sunshine state the following weekend to play against host Florida Gulf Coast on Sept. 14. The squad will then travel to Harrisonburg to take on the Dukes of James Madison Sept. 18.

One of VCU's final non-conference tests may be its biggest, as the Rams welcome national power Virginia to Sports Backers Stadium on Sept. 25 for the first time since 2008. The in-state rivalry is scheduled to kickoff at 7 p.m. VCU then wraps up non-conference play with a home match against Northeastern on Sept. 29.

VCU begins its new A-10 era at home against 2011 National Runner-up Charlotte on Oct. 5, and will also host George Washington (Oct. 7), while traveling to St. Louis (Oct. 12), Butler (Oct. 14), Fordham (Oct. 19) and La Salle (Oct. 21).

VCU's home conference slate will continue Oct. 26 when the Rams play host to Xavier, and then Dayton (Oct. 28). The Black and Gold is also scheduled to have an away match against hometown and new A-10 rival Richmond (Nov. 2).

VCU continues to make strides under Giffard, who is entering his third season in Richmond, including the program's first national ranking last year since 2003-04. Giffard and the Rams will look to build on that success again in 2012.