Soccer ties in four exhibitions: Three added to next year’s roster

The SLU men’s soccer team began its spring exhibition season on Saturday, March 21, at home, against Xavier. The Musketeers scored early and went into the locker room with a 1-0 lead at the half. Junior defender Filip Pavisic found the back of the net early in the second half to tie the game for the Billikens. Neither team could break down the other’s defense, and the game ended in a 1-1 draw.

“Today was a tough game between two good teams,” SLU head coach Mike McGinty said. “We need to be sharper with our passing, but it was a good game and gave us good ideas on things we need to work on moving forward.”

The Billikens then traveled to Milwaukee on Sunday, March 29, to play Marquette, a game that ended in a 1-1 draw. SLU kept the tie streak going in a scoreless game against Illinois-Chicago, at home, on Saturday, April 11.

SLU recently faced Saint Louis FC, on April 19, on a soaked home field. Grant Owens put SLU on the board in the 23rd minute, but Saint Louis FC equalized just before halftime. Both teams battled for the lead with no success, and the game ended with a score of 1-1.

“Today was a great opportunity for our guys to play against Saint Louis FC,” SLU head coach Mike McGinty said. “Both sides played well, and it was a great experience for our guys to test themselves against professional players.”

The Billikens have tied all four of their spring exhibition games so far. They will end their schedule on Saturday, April 25, at Tulsa.

In the offseason, the Billikens have added three more transfers to their roster: Vince Cicciarelli, Jair Hernandez and Carson Gray.

Cicciarelli will finish out his collegiate career at SLU after spending three years at Notre Dame. The 6-foot-2-inch forward tallied six goals in 2013 while helping the Irish capture the NCAA title. He was named third-team All-ACC that year and started the final 19 games of the season. In 2014, he had two goals and helped Notre Dame advance to the third round of the NCAA Tournament.

“Vince is a proven goal scorer and a national champion,” McGinty said. “We recruited him from Scott Gallagher out of high school, and I’m excited he has decided to play his final season here at SLU.”

Hernandez played two seasons at Jefferson College in Hillsboro, Missouri, on defense and has two years of eligibility. Prior to Jefferson, Hernandez prepped for one year at Earl Wooster High School in Reno, Nevada, and played club for School in Reno, Nevada, and played club for Sagebrush United Red SC. His club team was ranked third in the nation in 2012. In 2011, he helped Sagebrush United win the National Cup Championship.

“Jair is a winner and leader who will make our defense even stronger next season,” McGinty said. “He was a fantastic captain for Jefferson College and Coach Ricardo Garza. He has the right personality and mindset to be an impact player for us here at SLU.”

Gray is another transfer, from Illinois Central College. The Peoria, Illinois, native will be enrolling at SLU as a junior with two years of eligibility beginning in the fall.

As a forward at Illinois Central, Gray was named a first-team National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) All-American last season, ranking fourth in the league with 26 goals in 19 games. He led his team to a 17-3 record.

“Carson is a proven goal scorer who we found at our January ID camp,” McGinty said. “He has had great success at the junior college level, and we expect him to help us next year in the attack.”

The players are part of a promising group of 13 newcomers for next season. The Billikens have previously announced the addition of nine freshmen and one more transfer. At the time of the announcement, ranked SLU’s class as number 19 in the country.

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