Preview: SLU's Top 3 Matches for 2014

Only a week away from the season’s start, we break down the top 3 match-ups for SLU’s men’s soccer team this fall:

3. vs. Lousiville, September 9th (Hermann Stadium, St. Louis)

At 14th, Louisville is the highest ranked regular season opponent for the Billikens this season. Returning starting forward Ricardo Velazco and goalkeeper Joachim Ball lead the way after both posted career best seasons in 2014. Velazco ranked top 2 for shots and total points, and ranked top 5 for goals and assists. As for Ball, the German native was top 5 in goals allowed average and shutouts. As a team, the Cardinals finished 3rd in the American conference, despite having the highest winning percentage. They are projected to finish 2nd this season, behind 8th ranked UCONN.

Louisville players to watch: Ricardo Velazco (Jr. Fwd.)-Joachim Ball (Sr. GK)-Andrew Brody (So. MF)

SLU vs. Louisville all-time: 11-3-0

Last meeting: 2013, LOU won 2-1 (OT)

2. vs. Notre Dame (Exhibition) , August 16th (Hermann Stadium, St. Louis)

Although only an exhibition, the Billiken’s first match of the season against 2013 NCAA champions and preseason #1 Notre Dame cannot be overlooked. For SLU fans, it’s a great opportunity to see elite talent on their home turf. For the team, it’s their best chance to determine their progress towards regular and postseason success. Notre Dame comes into the game boasting last season’s second highest scoring offenses (47 goals), which poses a threat for an inexperienced group of underclassmen goalkeepers for SLU.

ND players to watch: Patrick Hodan (Jr. MF)-Nick Besler (Sr. MF-Hermann Watch List)-Patrick Wall (Grad. Student, GK)

SLU vs. ND all-time: 10-3-2

Last meeting: 2011, SLU won 1-0

1. at George Mason, October 12 (Fairfax, VA)

The Billikens look to avenge a 1-0 loss in the A-10 conference championship game from a year ago. Defense was the key for George Mason a year ago, where they ranked top 50 nationally in total saves and goals against average. The Patriots were able to ride that defense to an A-10 postseason championship and a first round NCAA tournament win by penalty kicks against William and Mary. Although not the highest profile of games (George Mason and SLU both enter the season unranked), this match-up has the most postseason implications and likely will determine the #1 seed for the A-10 conference championship.

GMU players to watch: Steffen Kraus (So, GK-Hermann Watch List)-Jannik Eckenrode (Jr. F/MF)-Taylor Washington (Jr. Def.)

SLU vs. GMU all-time: 1-2-1

Last meeting- 2013 A-10 conference championship, GMU won 1-0

Tags: George Mason Louisville NCAA Soccer Notre Dame Saint Louis University

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