In their first regular season matchup since 1995, SIUE men’s soccer tied Saint Louis University with a score of 1-1 Friday for the Bronze Boot Revival game, at SLU’s Robert R. Hermann stadium.
The Bronze Boot Trophy dates back to the ‘70s, when an SIUE alumnus’ father took an old cowboy boot, attached a cleat to it, and bronzed it. The games between SIUE and SLU used to draw crowds of thousands and were played at Busch Stadium.
“It’s just a big local rivalry that has a lot of history to it,” Head Coach Mario Sanchez said.
This year’s game resparked the rivalry between the two teams, with nearly 5,000 spectators showing up to the match. However, due to the tie, the Billikens kept hold of the Bronze Boot Trophy, which they’ve had in their possession for the past 23 years.
“Playing in front of 5,000 people is a very big thing, and I don’t think most of our team has done that before,” sophomore goalkeeper Noah Heim said. “So, I think that’s a big step for the environment that we play in, and now we are ready for anything.”
Heim made nine saves during the game for a season high. SIUE’s defense managed to keep 27 shots out of the goal, 12 of which SLU had on target.
“If not for the people in front of me, I would’ve had to make a lot more saves,” Heim said.
SLU had a series of chances to score starting at minute 47, when Andre Rivers-Hardware made a shot that was saved by Heim and Anthony Brown tried to get the rebound, but was stopped by senior midfielder Keegan McHugh. John Klein also attempted to make a shot in the minute 49. Seventy-five minutes in, Brown made what appeared to be a goal, but it was ultimately disallowed due to an offsides call.
The Cougars scored their goal when McHugh flicked the ball toward the back post, then junior forward Lachlan McLean came in for the shot.
“Obviously, going into games you want to win, with the way the game was going, we did have opportunities to get in that second goal to call it a victory,” McHugh said. “But, in the end, getting a tie on the road is huge.”
Eighty-nine minutes in, the Billikens tied the game when Leo Noves attempted a shot, and then on the rebound, played it to Brown, who scored, tying up the game.
With a minute left in regulation time, Jorge Gonzalez was fouled in the SLU box, leading to a penalty shot for SIUE. McLean took the shot, but Billikens’ goalkeeper Seth Stiebel managed to make a save, keeping the game tied.
“I was really proud of our guys for how they played and the character they showed in a tough environment, to get a tie out of it,” Sanchez said. “In soccer, especially on the road, when you get a tie, it’s a good result.”
The Cougars also traveled to Valparaiso Tuesday night, taking a 3-2 win against the Crusaders. Senior midfielder Greg Solowa put in the Cougars’ first goal in minute 28, while Gonzalez came away from the match with two goals in the second half.
SIUE’s defense still managed to maintain the lead, despite 13 shots on goal during the game to the Crusaders’ 17.
After Tuesday’s match, Gonzalez leads the team with six goals and 12 points.
The Cougars are now at 5-1-2 for the season, following Tuesday’s 3-2 win against Valparaiso in Indiana. They return home for a match against Mid-American Conference opponent Belmont University for the annual homecoming match 7 p.m Saturday at Korte Stadium.