The pandemic has cost us SIUE’s annual homecoming soccer game, but we can take comfort in knowing many SIUE former athletes have had their fair share of success since moving on from SIUE. How many of these former SIUE athletes do you remember? 

Mike Banner, forward & midfielder

A few months after the end of SIUE men’s soccer season in November 2006, Banner was selected as the no. 34 overall pick by the Chicago Fire in the 2007 Major League Soccer SuperDraft. Banner had 18 goals and 15 assists throughout his SIUE career. According to his Athletics bio, Banner achieved a plethora of other accomplishments while at SIUE, including honors from the All-Great Lakes Valley Conference.

Zach Bauer, defender

As a native of St. Louis, Bauer likes to keep things local. He was the third to officially sign with the new North American Soccer League as a member of AC St. Louis in 2010. Before landing at SIUE for the 2006 season, Bauer made a name for himself at Boston University.

John Berner, goalkeeper

Berner is yet another soccer star that calls St. Louis home. After playing three years at SIUE, Berner was picked up by the Colorado Rapids in the second round of the 2014 MLS SuperDraft. According to a post issued by MLS, Berner spent some time with Phoenix Rising FC of the United Soccer League before returning to Colorado in 2017. While at SIUE, he was named MVC Goalkeeper of the Year for his last two seasons. Early this year, St. Louis FC announced they planned on signing Berner for the 2020 USL Championship season. More of Berner’s collegiate stats can be found on his SIUE Athletics bio.

Justin Bilyeu, defender

Like Bauer, Bilyeu was also a graduate of Christian Brothers College High School in STL who continued his soccer career at SIUE. Bilyeu was picked no. 18 overall by the New York Redbulls in the MLS SuperDraft in 2016. He was last with the Swope Park Rangers, where he announced his retirement from professional soccer due concussion concerns.  He played from 2012 - 2015 at SIUE, and during that time he racked up multiple honorable mentions and other accomplishments, which can be viewed on the SIUE Athletics website.

Jorge Gonzalez, midfielder

Gonzalez became the eighth SIUE player to be drafted in the MLS SuperDraft when the Los Angeles FC picked him in the third round this January. He is currently with the Portland Timbers FC.

Mike Jones, defender

Jones continued excelling in soccer after he graduated from SIUE. In 2011, Jones was selected by Sporting Kansas City in the second round of the MLS supplemental draft. As The Alestle reported back in 2013, Jones went on to play with the New York Red Bulls. When in London for the 2011 Emirates Cup, he caught the attention of a representative from FC Hjorring, a Danish first-division soccer team. After he was given an offer by FC Hjorring, he signed with the team in July 2012 and began playing in Europe.

Austin Ledbetter, defender

Ledbetter jump-started his post-college athletic career in 2017 when he was drafted by FC Dallas. He later went on to play for St. FC and is currently with Phoenix Rising. Like others on this list, Ledbetter attended CBC before joining the Cougars.

Matt Polster, defender & midfielder

After playing for the Cougars from 2011 to 2014, Polster was the first defender taken in the overall draft pick by the Chicago Fire during the 2015 MLS SuperDraft. Approximately a year later, The Alestle reported he was drafted to play for the U.S. National Soccer team. After this, he headed to Scotland to play for the Scottish club Rangers. While at SIUE, he started all 79 games he played, according to Polster’s SIUE Athletics bio.

Christian Volesky, forward

ince leaving SIUE, Volesky has played all across the nation. He now plays for the Colorado Springs Switchbacks, but before landing in the mountains, he played for the Rochester Rhinos, St. Louis FC, Oklahoma City Energy FC and the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC.

Did we miss your favorite SIUE men’s soccer player? Contact Madison Lammert, editor-in-chief, at mlammert@alestlelive.com to let us know!

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