SLU Men’s Soccer Spring Schedule Pushes Billiken Growth

Photo+Courtesy+of+Jack+Connaghan

Photo Courtesy of Jack Connaghan

It might not officially be spring yet, but the SLU men’s soccer team kicked off their spring season this past Saturday at Butler by playing the Bulldogs to a 1-1 tie. A second-half goal from Evan Southern off the assist of Stefan Stojanovic was the only netting in the first game of a five game spring slate. 

The Billikens are returning 24 players from the 2019 Fall campaign, and look to make improvements against a strong lineup this spring. Goalie Patrick Schulte, midfielder John Klein, defender Ben Huels and the rest of the SLU squad look to enhance their skills this spring against a competitive schedule. After the university’s spring vacation, SLU will take on local foe in Division II Maryville. The Saints will come to Hermann Stadium for a 5 p.m. kickoff on Saturday, March 21. Next, the Bradley Braves will visit St. Louis and challenge the Billikens on March 29. That game will be a Sunday matinee and is set for a 3 p.m. kickoff. 

The competition for the final two games of the spring portion of the schedule will be quite a bit stiffer for Coach Kevin Kalish and the Bills. The eight-time national champion and back-to-back defending Big Ten Conference Champion Indiana Hoosiers will face the SLU squad in Fenton, Missouri on Saturday April 4. The two teams will face off at World Wide Technology Park and begin play at 6:30 p.m. Indiana is again loaded with talent and led by freshman midfielder Aidan Morris who was named an All-American this past fall. The Hoosiers were bounced in the second round of the NCAA tournament in an overtime loss to UC Santa Barbara. 

After their clash in Fenton, the Billikens will close out their compact schedule with a contest against the Missouri State Bears. A formidable foe, the in-state rival defeated Denver in the first round of the NCAA tournament before losing in the second round to the University of Central Florida. The Bears return two All-Americans in Josh Dolling and Kyle Hiebert. It will be a tough match for the Billikens, but a challenge that will only make them better. 

One notable omission from the spring schedule is STL FC. Traditionally, the two teams face off each spring, and the professional soccer club was originally slated to face the amatuer Billikens in 2020. Although, injuries and other concerns caused STL FC to cancel the game. SLU was not thrilled about the game cancellation, but there are no hard feelings. “It’s unfortunate not to get the opportunity to play STL FC, as our players would have grown from the experience,” stated head coach Kevin Kalish, “We wish them nothing but success with their upcoming season and are proud to represent Saint Louis soccer with them.”  

The Billikens may not have the opportunity to face off against STL FC, but they are still excited getting back in action. After a bitter end to the season in the A-10 tournament last fall, improving skills and gaining experience are two opportunities the spring portion of the season offers for the Billikens. Kalish and the staff are eager to evaluate their team and see how they stack up against competitive soccer clubs like Indiana and Missouri State. “This team has put in quality work over the winter months to prepare themselves for the upcoming slate of spring games.” mentioned Kalish. “We have assembled a well balanced spring schedule against other top programs that will test us and allow us to grow as a team as we prepare for the 2020 season.”

The Billikens journey to make it back to the NCAA tournament began with off-season practices this winter, and the spring schedule is the next step in that journey. As year number three of the Kalish era commences, excitement is building with each game played and recruit signed for Kalish. It is to be seen if that excitement leads to on-field success in the near future for the Billikens.

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