CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Charlotte women’s soccer program will play its 20th season in 2013 and it has lined up 10 home dates to help commemorate the occasion, head coach John Cullen has announced Friday. The 49ers, who first competed in 1994, will be a member of Conference USA for the first time since 2004.

“We’re very pleased with the balance of the schedule,” Cullen said. “For us, it will be a lot of new opponents and teams to play against. But, the breakdown of the schedule is very favorable in that we are not on the road too long or at home too long. I think Niner Nation can look forward to a lot of new opponents coming into town as we participate in Conference USA.

“I think the players are very excited about what’s ahead of us. The coaching staff is excited and preparing, too. One thing we want to do is get off to a good start.”

The regular season opens with a three-match homestand with the trio of contests in a five-day span. Charlotte will start the stretch with a weekend set of Liberty and UNC Wilmington, Aug. 23 and 25, at Transamerica Field. The homestand will conclude with an Aug. 27 home game against Gardner-Webb.

“To start the season, we play three home games in the span of five days. Unusual but we want to play as many home games as we can in front of our Niner Nation fans and get them excited about our team this year before we get into the meat of the season.”

The 49ers then hit the road for three straight, including an ACC matchup in Blacksburg, Va., at Virginia Tech. Charlotte will then play host to James Madison and College of Charleston on back-to-back Fridays, Sept. 13 and 20, before meeting up with Davidson on the road to close the non-conference portion of the slate.

A pair of road matches begins the Conference USA schedule, as the Niners will travel to Miami for a Friday contest at FIU before returning to the state to face East Carolina in Greenville, N.C., two days later.

Fellow league newcomers UTSA and Middle Tennessee will be the first C-USA opponents to step onto the Transamerica Field playing surface, as they arrive in the Queen City for Oct. 4 and 6 matchups.

Charlotte then makes its longest road swing of the campaign, heading to the Lone Star State to battle conference foes UTEP and North Texas during October’s middle weekend.

The home calendar closes with three-straight matches in league action, starting Oct. 18 against UAB. Marshall and Florida Atlantic also make the trip to town for games Oct. 25 and 27.

The 49ers will then hit the road for an Oct. 31 match at Old Dominion to close the regular season.

“Of the 10 games in Conference USA, six are against new teams to the conference like ourselves so there are a lot of unknowns. You can do as much research as you can possibly do as a staff and as a program but I think the real substance will come from playing the games.

“Some teams are coming off some fantastic seasons in the Sun Belt, like the regular season champion (Middle Tennessee) and tournament champion (North Texas), along with FIU, dominated that conference last year. They are all on our schedule this year so we expect three quality teams there. But there’s still a lot of unknowns.”

The Conference USA Championships will be held Nov. 6-10 at the Rice Soccer Stadium in Houston. It has been recommended to the league board vote upon expanding the tournament field to 10 teams. The board will next meet in June to make the final determination for the 16-team conference.

2013 Charlotte women’s soccer schedule

August 17         at UNC Asheville (exh.) 2 p.m.
August 23        Liberty 7 p.m.
August 25        UNC Wilmington         1 p.m.
August 27        Gardner-Webb 7 p.m.
September 1     at Elon  7 p.m.
September 6     at Virginia Tech            5 p.m.
September 8     at Western Carolina      2 p.m.
September 13  James Madison           7 p.m.
September 20  College of Charleston 7 p.m.
September 22   at Davidson      7 p.m.
September 27   at FIU* 7 p.m.
September 29   at East Carolina*           2 p.m.
October 4        UTSA* 7 p.m.
October 6        Middle Tennessee*      1 p.m.
October 11       at UTEP*          9 p.m.
October 13       at North Texas*            2 p.m.
October 18       UAB*   7 p.m.
October 25       Marshall*         7 p.m.
October 27       Florida Atlantic*          1 p.m.
October 31      at Old Dominion*           7 p.m.
November 6-10 Conference USA Championships           TBA
            (Houston, Texas)

Home matches in bold played at Transamerica Field
* - Conference USA game
All times Eastern and subject to change