EDWARDSVILLE — The Missouri Valley Conference tournament and eight home games at Korte Stadium highlight the 2015 SIUE men’s soccer schedule as announced by first-year head coach Mario Sanchez.
The MVC announced the men’s soccer championship would be June 1 at SIUE, marking the first time an affiliate member will be the host for the men’s soccer tournament.
“For our program, for the university and for the community, it is a major stepping stone to be able to host the Missouri Valley Conference tournament,” Sanchez said. “From the competitive side, to be playing in front of our home crowd will be a great experience and ultimately a great platform for us to win the MVC tournament.”
The tournament takes place Nov. 11, 13 and 15. The Cougars are the defending tournament champions after ousting Missouri State in overtime in last year’s championship held at Bradley.
“I anticipate that hosting the tournament will be very well-received, well-attended and a great opportunity for our area to experience high-level soccer,” Sanchez said. “We fully anticipate strong crowds for all of the games.”
For the third consecutive season, the Cougars will open the season with an exhibition match at Korte Stadium. Big East foe Xavier will come to SIUE Aug. 14. The Cougars also will play host to Milwaukee on Aug. 21. SIUE will travel to Tulsa for an exhibition match Aug. 17.
SIUE spends opening weekend on the road, playing games at Bowling Green (Aug. 28) and Oakland (Aug. 30). The Cougars open the regular season at home Friday, Sept. 4, with a 7 p.m. match vs. UMKC and then play host to Memphis at 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 6.
September finishes with a four-game road swing that includes the beginning of MVC play. The Cougars travel to San Diego for games at San Diego State (Sept. 11) and University of San Diego (Sept. 13). It is the first time that SIUE will play San Diego or San Diego State. SIUE will remain on the road for the first of two Big Ten opponents when it takes on Wisconsin Sep. 22.
“We’re preparing to win the Missouri Valley regular season and the Missouri Valley Conference tournament,” Sanchez said. “From a nonconference standpoint, playing established Big Ten teams is going to be great for the RPI and in preparation for the Missouri Valley. Getting out of the region to San Diego is good for the RPI and on a national standpoint puts us in a good position.”
The Cougars travel to Springfield, Mo., to open MVC play with a rematch of last year’s title game. SIUE will play at Missouri State Sep. 26.
Central Arkansas comes to Korte Stadium Oct. 3. The game is one of just two home contests in October. SIUE will play host Evansville Oct. 17.
Road games at Butler (Oct. 6), Northwestern (Oct. 10), Drake (Oct. 24), and Bradley (Oct. 31) round out the October schedule.
“We want to be a dominant team regionally,” Sanchez said. “Playing Bowling Green, Oakland, Memphis and Butler allows us to continue to put our stamp on the Midwest region.”
The regular season closes with home games against Eastern Illinois (Nov. 3) and MVC opponent Loyola (Nov. 7) ahead of the MVC Tournament.