Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Soccer Billikens Have Depth, Questions

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Soccer Billikens Have Depth, Questions

Article excerpt

Reducing the first two games of the college soccer season to a statistical breakdown would have been enough to frustrate any coach.

St. Louis University was on the wrong end of some lopsided numbers following games at Wake Forest and North Carolina to open the season. And lopsided doesn't really begin to describe the disparity.

Yet, entering its first home game against Tulsa on Sunday night, SLU had a 1-0 win over Wake Forest, which was ranked No. 5 in the country at the time. As a result, the Billikens were elevated to a No. 19 ranking by Soccer America. And they had the experience of playing No. 3 North Carolina on the road, losing 3-0.

"If we don't stick to the game plan, we're going to be second best," coach Mike McGinty said. "If we do, we can beat anybody in the country. It was good to learn both of those lessons early."

After a week to digest what had been learned, the Billikens returned to action and played to a 1-1 draw against Tulsa on Sunday night at Hermann Stadium.

The opening weekend against two national powers was a setup that McGinty had been trying to arrange for a few years. It came to fruition at a time he is attempting to blend a significant number of new players and figure out roles and combinations.

That newness led to the mixed results on the trip to North Carolina. The Billikens were outshot 49-5 in two games and they were held without a shot by the Tar Heels. The opponents had 25 corner kicks to SLU's two. And goalkeeper Sascha Otte had to make 18 saves while the opponents made two.

McGinty used 21 players on the trip, including eight players who had not been on the field for the Billikens previously.

"We have a number of new players we haven't seen play," the coach said. "I just don't know them well enough to know how much we can count on them or in what capacity. But we have a deeper team that in the past, so I'm getting to know them and giving them opportunities is something we're still trying to manage."

One player McGinty knows he will rely upon heavily is Otte, a junior who has been the starting goalkeeper since the first game of his freshman season. He came up big against Wake Forest, recording a career-high 11 saves after SLU scored early. …

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