2015 SLU Soccer Preview


A roster with nine freshmen often yields poor seasons, disguised as “rebuilding” years. Just ask Jim Crews and the SLU basketball team. Add to that, the loss of stars and leaders Robert Kristo, Raymond Lee, Anthony Manning, and Kingsley Bryce, and head coach Mike McGinty will have his hands full this year.

“It’s a presence we’re missing,” said McGinty, speaking on the loss of his four seniors from last year. In a “Moneyball”-esque way, the Billikens will look to recreate the leaders not with one player, but as a team. “Rather than one or two players, we have to go about it collectively. They know that,” said the coach. “We need more ownership.”

“We need more ownership.”-Mike McGinty

Despite being in a relative rebuild, the Billikens enter the season 22nd in the NSCAA rankings, mainly in part to returning now-senior starters David Graydon, Tyler David, Marco Heskamp, and Filip Pavisic. “They’ll help teach the young guys how we do things,” said McGinty. The latter 3 of that group helped a stout defense that kept teams scoreless twelve times in 2014, a presence they’ll need this year more than last, after losing their top three scorers.

Holding that defense together will be last year’s breakout star, Sascha Otte. Nicknamed “Brickenmauer” (brick wall in German) a year ago, Otte was instrumental in the 12 shutouts last year, posting a .88 goals against average and stopping 75% of the shots that came towards him. “There’s not aspect he’s clearly better at,” explained the coach, “but he’s much more a leader now.” McGinty went on to express the coaching staff and players’ expectations for Otte, saying that he’s “expected to do well”, rather than “hoping he would do well” last year. With more on his shoulders, Brickenmauer possesses the ability to burst onto the national scene.

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Finally, those freshmen I’ve hinted at. Out of the nine ready for the season, three come in highly recruited. Forwards Nash Popovic, out of Rochester, Michigan, Anthony Brown from St. Louis, and Jeffery Palomarez from Dallas, rank 47th, 102nd, and 121st respectively amongst the 2015 recruiting class, according to collegesoccernews.com. The coaching staff feels confident all nine will be able to “come in and help”, and that “a lot are going to feature”. With the whole team having been there all summer already for practice and summer school, Coach McGinty expects no chemistry issues as the season kicks off.

SLU’s first exhibition versus Jefferson college yielded a 4-0 victory at Hermann field. Next up are UIC on August 22nd, and, the #3 team in the country, Notre Dame on August 24th. The real season begins August 28th vs. Tulsa, while the first home game will be September 4th vs. Memphis, a team that blew the Bills out of the water a year ago (4-0). Having been a powerhouse among the A-10 the last few years, SLU’s ready for its new era of soccer. Not as much fresh beginnings, but rather a new city built upon an old kingdom. New faces, but the same traditions. Here’s to another year of great soccer in the Lou.

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