The Billiken’s return eight starters, albeit from a team that finished 5-9-4. I look forward to this season, despite that record for two reasons – the ladies also finished strong, playing an attractive style and winning two of their final three games as they absorbed the lessons of the season. They also bring in a quality recruiting class led by All-American Cristina Rodriguez from St Dominic. The biggest question mark will be in goal where sophomore Hanna Benben (Villa Duchesne/JB Marine) is the only listed goalkeeper and responsible for replacing Katie Walsh.
The two teams played to a scoreless draw in a non-conference game last year that foretold some of the struggles that would slow Billiken’s until they gelled under new coach Kat Mertz and then assistant Katie Shields. I’m interested to see how the two teams open this year.
BILLIKENS PLAY FIRST OF TWO EXHIBITION GAMES – Saint Louis women’s soccer continues preparation for the 2013 season by playing Southeast Missouri State Tuesday, Aug. 13, in the first of two exhibition contests for the Billikens. First whistle at SEMO’s Houck Stadium in Cape Girardeau, Mo., is slated for 6:30 p.m.
FOLLOWING THE GAME – Free live statistics are available for Tuesday’s SLU-SEMO game. The link may be found in the schedule boxes located just below the main photo on www.SLUBillikens.com.
HEAD COACH KATIE SHIELDS – Katie Shields, the third head coach in Saint Louis women’s soccer history, is in her first season guiding the Billikens. Shields was a SLU assistant coach last year. Prior to her arrival at Saint Louis, Shields spent two seasons as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Northwestern. She served three years in the same capacities at her alma mater, Harvard, where she helped guide the Crimson to Ivy League titles and NCAA Championship berths in 2008 and 2009. Shields began her coaching career with a one-year stint as an assistant at Cal Irvine. In addition to her collegiate coaching experience, she served as assistant goalkeeping coach for the Boston Breakers of Women’s Professional Soccer in 2009; head coach of the Boston Bolts F.C. girls’ youth clubs for two years; and camp director/senior staff member of Soccerplus Goalkeeper School from 2006-11. Earlier this year, she served as an assistant coach for the U.S. Under-18 Women’s National Team. Shields is a 2006 graduate of Harvard with a bachelor’s degree in government. She is joined on the sideline by three newcomers to the staff – assistant coaches Scott Gloden and Vince Gentile and volunteer assistant Anne Gloden.
ABOUT THE BILLIKENS – Saint Louis returns eight starters and 10 additional players from last year’s 5-9-4 team that finished 12th (3-4-2) in the Atlantic 10 Conference. Among the returning starters are senior forwards Maddie Gebauer (3G, 1A) and Jenny Hummert (2G, 3A), who tied for the team scoring lead in 2012. Junior forward Lindsay Elking tallied one goal and three assists last year after earning a starting spot. Senior defender Jessie Jarrett (1G, 1A) is back after helping the Bills post seven shutouts and a 1.11 GAA, as are junior defenders Maddy Bush (1G) and Mary Wright (1A). Additional returning starters are junior forward Abbey Stock and sophomore midfielder Katelyn Hammarlund. Sophomore midfielder Jamei Borges came off the bench and netted three goals in her rookie campaign. Also returning are senior forward Kailey Pretzlaff (1G, 1A), senior midfielder Tori Belgeri, junior defenders Andrea Strebler and Julia Merlo, junior midfielder Mallorie Owens, sophomore forward Livi Logan-Wood, sophomore defenders Colleen Cole and Michelle Schwarz, and sophomore goalkeeper Hanna Benben.
SEVEN FRESHMEN ON BOARD – The Billikens welcome seven freshmen to the 2013 team – defender Kacey Bright, forward Kirsten Clemens (Platte City/Viati), midfielder Tori Marshall, defender Alyssa Mastroianni, forward Molly Piech, forward/midfielder Cristina Rodriguez (St Dominic/Tony Glavin) and midfielder Shaney Sakamoto.
SCOUTING SEMO – The Redhawks welcome back six starters and eight additional letter winners from last year’s team that finished 7-10-4 overall and 5-3-2 (fourth place) in the Ohio Valley Conference. Among the returnees are junior midfielder Torey Byrd (Columbia, IL), who led the 2012 team with six goals; senior goalkeeper Ashton Aubuchon (Hazelwood West/JB Marine), a first-team All-Conference selection two years ago; sophomore forward Erin Shulman (Bloomington/SLSG Metro), who missed most of last season due to injury after being tabbed first-team All-Conference and OVC Freshman of the Year in 2011 (nine goals); and sophomore defender Paige Luehmann (Granite City/SLSG Metro), a member of the 2012 OVC All-Newcomer team. Junior forward Breana Beine (Howell Central/SLSG MO), a transfer from Evansville who collected 2010 Missouri Valley Conference Freshman of the Year plaudits after netting seven goals, will be on the field after sitting out the 2012 campaign due to NCAA transfer rules.
SERIES HISTORY – The Billikens lead the Redhawks 3-0-2 in regular-season play. The teams have battled to a 0-0 deadlock in the past two meetings, including last year in Cape Girardeau.
UP NEXT – Saint Louis is at home for its second and final exhibition game Friday, Aug. 16. Arkansas State is the opponent, and kickoff at Robert R. Hermann Stadium is set for 5 p.m