The bright lights of Hermann Stadium and the pressure of national rankings did not deter the men’s soccer team during their homecoming game. The Billikens took care of business and easily defeated Central Arkansas 3-0.
The Bills (6-2) concluded their non-conference season on a high note, scoring 10 goals in their last three matches and defeating two nationally-ranked teams during the course of the non-conference season. The Bills also matched their win total from last season with their victory over Central Arkansas. The Bills will begin their Atlantic 10 conference season on Friday against nationally-ranked Xavier, followed by Dayton on Sunday.
“I thought we played really well, we’re six and two. It was a good win for us,” Head Coach Mike McGinty said. “It was a great end to our out-of-conference season and a fantastic result, but you don’t win any trophies in September.”
The match started off slow, as both team battled for possession of the ball, but SLU had the upper hand. After the slow start, SLU broke through with the first of its 3 goals in the 37th minute. The ball was passed to Jon Roeckle, who curled a beautifully placed ball in the box to Robbie Kristo, who headed the ball past the Central Arkansas keeper.
“It was a great ball in the box,” McGinty said. “Robbie just went up and made it his.”
The Bills went into halftime with the 1-0 lead.
After the halftime fireworks, the Bills created their own “fireworks” on the field, scoring 2 more goals.
In the 49th minute, with the Bills pressuring Central Arkansas, the Bills had a free kick, which was well-defended by Central Arkansas, but the ball was regained by the Bills. David Graydon attempted to control the ball, and then tapped it behind him to Alex Sweetin, who rocketed a ball outside the box into the net for the Bills’ second goal of the night.
In the 66th minute, Kristo shot through the Central Arkansas defense and tacked on his second goal of the night as the Bills gained a 3-0 advantage.
“I think [my performance] was all right. I mean, I had two goals so it worked out,” Kristo said.
The team now turns its attention to the A-10 conference season. SLU men’s soccer has a tough task ahead. The team was predicted to finish fourth in the A-10 preseason rankings.
“I like where we are at, but these matches that we just played doesn’t matter now,” Kristo said. “Now it is conference play so it is a completely different story. We start at 0-0 with a brand-new record and a brand-new sheet.”
SLU will play two nationally-ranked teams in Charlotte and Xavier during their conference season and the team has their last three conference matches at home, facing Charlotte, George Washington and Butler. If the Bills finish in the top eight of the conference, then they will move on to the conference tournament in Charlotte, N.C. on Nov. 7-11.
The Bills will open their A-10 season on the road with No. 19 Xavier on Friday, and then travel to Dayton to play the Flyers on Sunday. The Bills will play their A-10 home opener against Virginia Commonwealth University Friday at 7 p.m. at Hermann Stadium.