Even though the Georgia State women’s soccer team’s first game is listed as an exhibition, the Panthers will not be taking it lightly.

Georgia State will take on Samford at 7 p.m. Friday night in Homewood, Alabama for the first game of the season and the first match of head coach Derek Leader’s tenure at the helm of the program.

“We are excited to play our first game of the season in Homewood, Alabama against Samford,” Leader said. “Our team is excited to go out on the field and show off all the work that has been done in practice. It won’t be easy against a team that went undefeated last season and is the SoCon champ, but it will be a good test before our matchup with Auburn next week. We are excited to get our season underway.”

Samford is coming off one of its best years in program history. The Bulldogs went 14-6-2 overall and went undefeated in the Southern Conference, which culminated in a SoCon Tournament championship and a bid into the NCAA tournament.

Samford also returns eight starters after only losing two from last season. Most of the returning core for the Bulldogs are defenders and middle fielders.

Georgia State, meanwhile, returns six starters after losing five. Leading the way for the Panthers on offense will be juniors Jewel Evans, Jordan Younger and Alison Gonzalez, as well as sophomores Jordan Young, Whitney Ravan and Eryka Hawkins.  Junior Rebecca Ingram will be back in the goal, junior Alyssia Feronti will anchor the defense and senior Carly Lafferty will lead the midfielders. The Panthers have nine newcomers and one transfer.

For those not attending the game in Alabama, live video and live stats will be available at samfordsports.com. The game will start at 7 p.m. ET Friday night.