The three fall sports starting in August — men’s soccer, women’s soccer and volleyball — have released their 2018 schedules.
All three sports will start with around a half season of non-conference matches before heading into conference play in the later months of the seasons.
Both soccer teams will begin their seasons with two exhibition matches before starting their official games in mid to late August.
Men’s soccer head coach Mario Sanchez said his team plans to use these exhibition games as a way to test out some different things while also giving everyone playing time against some good opponents.
“We want to not just play two games, but to play against two quality teams that are going to test us, and see where we’re at,” Sanchez said.
After the exhibition games against the University of Tulsa and the University of Cincinnati, the soccer team will officially open their season at the University of Memphis. After traveling to Memphis, the team will have a five-game homestand that lasts until mid-September.
Sanchez said he’s looking forward to getting a strong start while playing at home. The team will face non-conference teams like Princeton University and the University of Wisconsin early in the season, and Sanchez emphasized that each of these games are equally important.
“We’re hoping that this year we take it off to a really positive start and build some momentum as we hit the tough stretch in the middle, where we tend to have more away games,” Sanchez said.
The women soccer team’s season, however, starts with mostly away games. Including exhibitions, they will only play two of their first ten games at home.
Women’s soccer head coach Derek Burton said he would have liked to see a few more home games, but the early away games should give the team an edge when competing.
“We’ll learn early what it’s like to play on the road, so hopefully that helps us in the latter part of the season in conference whenever it’s most crucial,” Burton said.
While working to prepare for the conference section of the season, Burton also said he hopes these non-conference games will go well even against teams like University of Kentucky and University of Illinois.
“It’ll be a challenge, and it will test us early. And sometimes, playing on the road can be a good thing because there’s less to distract you,” Burton said.
The volleyball team will start the season with four non-conference tournaments before heading into conference play in September.
Head Coach Kendall Paulus said the pre-conference season tournaments should reveal what the young team can do after graduating six seniors last year.
“We’re really excited for our preseason schedule … we should see a good, diverse range of opponents to really show us where we’re at when we get into conference,” Paulus said.
She added that the team is bringing in a lot of new, young players who she hopes can get more fans interested in watching SIUE volleyball.
“This squad has not gotten to really showcase what they have to offer, and we have a lot of young talent; that’s extremely exciting,” Paulus said.
Their first tournament will be held in late August at Texas Christian University, where the Cougars will face University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, University of Alabama at Birmingham and TCU.
The Cougars will then have two more away tournaments before their first home tournament in mid-September that will lead into the conference season.
“Hopefully, we can get some confidence being at home right before going into conference,” Paulus said.
According to NCAA regulations, none of the sports are able to hold practices until about a week into August, so all three teams will have a quick transition period before heading into the season.
The Alestle will publish a full preview of each fall sport in the Back to School Survival Guide next month.