Saint Louis University head women’s soccer coach Katie Shields has announced the Billikens’ 2013 schedule, an 18-game slate that features a record number of home contests as well as matches against three 2012 conference champions. After playing just seven games – the fewest in program history – on the home schedule a year ago, the Billikens welcome 11 opponents to the Robert R. Hermann Stadium pitch this season. The previous high was 10 home games in 1997.
“It’s great to look at the schedule and consistently see Hermann Stadium pop up,” Shields said. “We love playing on our beautiful surface, and it’s nice for our players to sleep in their own beds and not miss class. Their preparation on the road improved last year and we’re pleased about that, but there’s something special about playing home games. We’re looking forward to 11 of them.”
Saint Louis will face two of the three 2012 league winners at home. UT Martin (Sept. 20, 7 p.m.) played in the NCAA Tournament after capturing its first-ever outright Ohio Valley Conference regular-season title and second straight OVC postseason tournament crown. Evansville (Sept. 8, 1 p.m.) won the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season championship.
Also on the docket is a journey to Illinois State (Sept. 17), where the Bills will take on a Redbirds team that reached the NCAA Tournament for a third time in four years in 2012.
SLU’s 10-game non-conference schedule also includes opponents from the Big East (DePaul), SEC (Arkansas and Mississippi), Big Ten (Iowa) and Big 12 (Iowa State).
“Obviously you want to play enough teams that do well in some of the major conferences so that your RPI at the end of the season is possibly good enough to earn an NCAA Tournament at-large bid in case you don’t win your conference,” Shields said. “It’s also nice to test yourself against different styles of play. The teams we play from those leagues present different challenges that will prepare us well for the Atlantic 10.”
The A-10 has pared the conference schedule from nine to eight games. The Billikens will play three of the top five teams in the league’s 2012 final regular-season standings (second-place Dayton, third-place and A-10 Championship runner-up VCU, fifth-place St. Bonaventure).
“I don’t mind the eight-game A-10 schedule,” Shields said. “In fact, I think it’s great that we end the conference season with three consecutive one-game weekends because as you get into late October, fatigue can be an issue. It’s nice to play several teams we played last year that we’re familiar with, but it’s also good to play others we didn’t see last year. It’s a well-balanced A-10 schedule that sets us up to be successful if we take care of business.”
Following exhibition games at Southeast Missouri State (Aug. 13) and at home against Arkansas State (Aug. 16, 7 p.m.), Saint Louis opens the regular season with five of its first six matches at home. Western Michigan comes to town Aug. 23 for a 7 p.m. clash, followed by an Aug. 25 meeting with DePaul at 1 p.m.
The Billikens face their first road test against Arkansas Aug. 30 before a quick turnaround brings Mississippi to Hermann Stadium for a rare Sunday night game (7 p.m.) Sept. 1. Local rival SIUE crosses the Mississippi River for a Sept. 6 showdown at 7 p.m., while Evansville is the opponent Sept. 8 (1 p.m.).
SLU heads north for its next two games, meeting Iowa Sept. 13 and Illinois State Sept. 17 before closing out the month with three home tilts. UT Martin kicks off the home stand Sept. 20 at 7 p.m., and Iowa State invades Hermann Stadium Sept. 22 at noon. The A-10 opener against St. Bonaventure is set for Sept. 27 at 6 p.m.
The Billikens begin October with a two-game trip to Virginia. Richmond hosts Saint Louis Oct. 4, and the Bills get their first look at new A-10 member George Mason Oct. 6.
SLU reaches the midpoint of the league slate at home against Duquesne Oct. 11 (5 p.m.), then welcomes Massachusetts to town Oct. 13 for a 2:30 p.m. first whistle. The schedule tapers off down the stretch as the Billikens trek to Dayton Oct. 19, host Rhode Island Oct. 26 (7 p.m.) and conclude the regular season at VCU Nov. 3. VCU is the site of the A-10 Championship Nov. 7-10.