What you need to know:

*Georgia State opens its 20-match schedule with an exhibition vs. Charlotte on Sunday
*The Panthers kick off the regular season on Aug. 17 vs. Tennessee Tech at the GSU Soccer Complex
*GSU returns 12 players from last year’s squad and welcomes 20 newcomers

ATLANTA – The Georgia State women’s soccer team began preparations for the upcoming season Wednesday morning, as the squad is only four days away from its first match of the year in Sunday’s exhibition against Charlotte at the GSU Soccer Complex.

The Panthers’ two-game exhibition slate kicks off at 2 p.m. Sunday against Charlotte and concludes with a 2 p.m. match at Presbyterian College on Aug. 12. Georgia State opens the regular season at home against Tennessee Tech on Aug. 17.

“In the first two exhibitions we’re looking to get some freshmen and some new players some realistic experience to get a feel of who we are as a group and start to build an identity to move into the season,” head coach Ed Joyce said.

Georgia State will lean on the experience of key veterans Monique Hundley, Samantha Jacob, and Brooke Shank. Hundley led the Panthers with 45 shots and 19 shots on goal last season, while Shank finished second on the team with 24 shots and 13 shots on target for a .542 shot on goal percentage. Jacob joined the program last Christmas after spending her first two seasons at Troy.

“Monique and Brooke last year led us in minutes and were major contributors last season. They’ve been there before and played in the conference before so we’ll look for them to help the younger players assimilate and get used to what we’re doing,” Joyce said. “Sammy came in fit, worked really hard and bought into what we’re trying to build for the future. We’re really looking for her to contribute in a positive way this fall.”

GSU looks to improve after a 2017 season hampered with injuries resulted in a 3-11-3 record. Joyce welcomed the largest freshmen class since the start of the program in 1994, with 14 newcomers rounding out the 31-member squad – a record that will be broken again in 2018. This season, Georgia State welcomes 20 newcomers in total, 15 freshmen and five transfers.

“I think we’re bringing in a freshmen class that has a lot of talent coming from not only around the country but also around the world with some international experience at the youth national team level, the high end of the ECNL, and the development academy of the United States,” Joyce said. “We think they’re going to bring a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of athleticism, and we’re excited to see them hit the ground running.”

Aside from Jacob, the Panthers added goalkeeper Maddie Card from Butler, forward/defender Rebecca Crouch from South Florida, forward Hannah Davis from Georgia, and forward/defender Lexie Knox from Tennessee. Joyce believes Card and Crouch can provide valuable experience and leadership to the group right away.

Georgia State will stream four of its home matches during the 2018 season on its official audio and video service PantherVision. Fans will be able to stream the following women’s soccer contests: Sept. 9 vs. Vanderbilt, Sept. 14 vs. Georgia Southern, Sept. 30 vs. Troy, and Oct. 14 vs. Coastal Carolina. All home matches at the GSU Soccer Complex will be free admission and parking for fans. 

Follow along with Georgia State on Twitter (@GSUWomensSoccer) for the latest news and updates.