EDWARDSVILLE — Southern Illinois University Edwardsville men's soccer head coach Kevin Kalish announced a rigorous 2013 schedule that features five matches against teams which advanced to the 2012 NCAA Tournament, including two that reached the round of 16 and one that advanced to the national quarterfinals.
SIUE finished the 2012 season with a 13-7-0 record and a spot in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Tournament championship game for the second time in three seasons. The Cougars spent much of last season ranked in the national polls, reaching a high of No. 22. The Cougars completed the year with a No. 37 ranking in the NCAA Ratings Percentage Index (RPI).
"We are excited about again playing a challenging national-level schedule. The inclusion of five teams from last year's NCAA tournament highlights the overall rigor of the schedule and gives us the type of competition that our players and fans expect," said Kalish.
The Cougars, who return a number of key players from a group that achieved the most victories of any current MVC program in 2012, begin the season with a pair of exhibition home games against Milwaukee (Aug. 16) and IUPUI (Aug. 23).
The beginning of the season ramps up quickly for the Cougars as they travel to California to take on Santa Clara (Aug. 30) and San Jose State (Sept. 1).
SIUE then moves on to Tulsa, Okla., for contests against two programs that gained entry to the NCAA Tournament a year ago. The Cougars face perennial contender SMU in a neutral site game Sept. 6 before taking on a Tulsa team Sept. 8 that reached the NCAA Tournament Round of 16 in 2012.
The first regular season home contest is Sept. 13 when the Cougars face American Athletic Conference member Cincinnati at Korte Stadium. The nonconference slate at Korte Stadium features a 2012 season rematch with UIC Sept. 28.
A challenging nonconference road slate includes contests at Omaha (Sept. 17) and DePaul (Sept. 21) as well as Louisville (Sept. 24) and Northwestern (Oct. 12). Louisville and Northwestern each advanced to the NCAA Tournament last season with Northwestern advancing to the Round of 16 and Louisville the national quarterfinals. South Florida's Corbett Soccer Stadium plays host to a road matchup with South Florida (Oct. 15), another NCAA Tournament participant from a year ago.
"We know that playing other nationally-recognized programs will prepare us well for a tough Missouri Valley Conference schedule, the MVC Tournament, and postseason play," Kalish said.
The Cougars kick off the month of October with their first MVC contest of the season against Central Arkansas (Oct. 5). SIUE's MVC home schedule also features contests with league newcomer Loyola (Oct. 26) and Evansville (Nov. 2).
SIUE goes to the road to face MVC opponents Drake (Oct. 19), Bradley (Oct. 23), and Missouri State (Nov. 9).
The 2013 MVC Tournament will be played Nov. 13, 15, and 17 in Peoria.
Follow SIUE men's soccer on Twitter: @SIUEMensSoccer