EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – SIUE men's soccer has won two straight games and opened Mid-American Conference play with a 3-1 win on Homecoming Saturday. The Cougars close out a four-game home stand with No. 15 Butler Tuesday at Korte Stadium.
Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.
The Cougars (5-6-0 overall) and Bulldogs (7-3-0) have become familiar foes. Tonight's game marks the fifth meeting in the last four years. Last season SIUE dropped a 2-0 contest at Butler in September but advanced past Butler on penalty kicks following a scoreless tie in the second round of the NCAA tournament. The two teams played to a 1-1 tie in the last meeting in Edwardsville in 2014.
"These games, against teams like Butler, are like conference games," SIUE Head Coach Mario Sanchez said. They are a very good team and likely a postseason team. It's another game for us to get better, to keep sharp and continue to make progress."
Sanchez believes the Cougars need to continue to play quality teams.
"If we see ourselves as a postseason team, whether it's the MAC postseason or the NCAA tournament, you have to play in these games and get used to this level of competition physically and mentally," Sanchez said.
The Cougars have outscored their last two opponents 5-1. Sanchez said that the team is continuing to improve on offense.
"Mohamed Awad being back on the team has been huge for us," Sanchez said. "He brings confidence to the team. He loves to keep possession higher up the field. It's freeing up Jorge (Gonzalez) and we've seen Devyn (Jambga) starting to come into it. Greg (Solawa) is someone we've always know could score goals. I have always thought he's someone who can score six to seven goals a season, because he's capable.
"It's a matter of the confidence growing," Sanchez continued. "The guys are really starting to find their rhythm, and we're starting to find the best combination of players on the field."
Sanchez said the team specifically seeks to bring quality opponents to SIUE.
"It's part of us growing as a program and as an athletic department," Sanchez said. "To bring in big schools from major conferences makes the whole athletic department better. It brings recognition to SIUE. It's something we're going to continue to do."