The Saint Louis University men’s soccer team bounced back from last week’s loss with a 1-0 victory against the University of Denver. The Billikens will be 4-1 entering their first match against a nationally ranked team, the No. 12 Connecticut Huskies.
“It is kind of funny because I think we played better soccer against Evansville and found a way to lose; today we maybe didn’t play as well, but found a way to win,” said Head Coach Mike McGinty. “So, moving forward we want to combine the both. We want to play well, we want to improve every week and we want to get results. It has been a brutal five-game stretch in a short period of time.”
The Bills had their only goal in the 18th minute. David Graydon passed a ball off to a sprinting Jon Roeckle who crossed the ball into box for Robert Kristo who slipped in at the far post and headed the ball into the net. It was Kristo’s second goal of the season.
“It was a great ball by Roeckle to the far post and the defender just stood there and I just beat him to it and got right in there,” said Kristo.
Denver applied pressured late, but Bills keeper Nick Shackelford made a couple of key saves in the second half to preserve the Bills shutout. After playing four games in eight days, the Bills will have a full week of rest before squaring off against No. 12 Connecticut. This is the first nationally ranked team the Bills will face this season.
The Connecticut Huskies are a loaded team. Like the Billikens, they return a lot of talent from last season’s team and received a lot of pre-season hype. Last season, the Huskies made it all the way to the NCAA quarterfinals before losing to Creighton.
UConn lost its first match of the season to Bradley University on Saturday which knocked them down to No. xx in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) poll. Last week, they were ranked No. 3 by the same poll.
Two key players that the Bills must watch out for on UConn are junior forward Mamadou Doudou Diouf and goalkeeper Andre Blake. Both players are on the Mac Hermann Trophy Watch List, the Heisman trophy of college soccer.
Diouf was second-team All-American and first-team All-Big East last season. He scored 15 goals and had two assists last season. So far, he only has one assist this season, but is a major threat due to his scoring ability.
Blake was the NSCAA first team All-American and two-time Big East goalkeeper of the year. Blake had a 0.54 goal against average last season and a 0.39 gaa average his freshman year. Blake recently had a 293 minute scoreless streak which was snapped on Saturday against Bradley University.
“I think we will be very excited for it, once we get a couple days rest we will be great,” said McGinty.
Kristo, last season’s top goal scorer, has been fighting ankle and fitness issues throughout this season, but has seen a lot of minutes recently due to two double overtime games against Northern Illinois and Evansville. He claims he is “pretty close” to going a full 90 minutes.
“We are excited,” said Kristo. “I mean those are the games that we want to play, that’s where we want to be, we want to play the number one, two, three teams so we can become that team.”
After the UConn game, the Billikens will return home for their homecoming match against Central Arkansas on Saturday, Sept. 28 at 7:30 p.m. at Robert R. Hermann Stadium.