Siena Soccer kicks off the program's 44th varsity season in Southern California this weekend as the Saints take on perennial Big West powers Cal State Northridge and UC Santa Barbara. The action commences Friday night at 10 p.m. ET (7 p.m. local time) when Siena opens against the defending Big West Champ Matadors in Northridge, California.
Fans can watch tonight's match online via Big West TV, and also follow the live stats by clicking the corresponding links at the top of the page. Follow @SienaSoccer for in-match twitter updates, and join the conversation by using the hashtags #SienaSaints and #MAACSoccer.
“Our California trip is something we have been looking forward to for a long time,” said head coach Cesar Markovic, who begins his fifth season at the helm. “We are playing two fantastic teams, and getting to cap the trip by playing in the most exciting environment in all of college soccer (Harder Stadium) will be a great experience for all involved.”
Siena is making just the program's second-ever trip west of the Mississippi, with both expeditions being led by Markovic. Now entering his 22nd season overall as a collegiate head coach, Markovic begins 2017 just one win shy of 200 for his career. The Saints previously traveled to Oregon in 2014 under Markovic where they played Oregon State and Portland.
Siena will be tested right off the bat to open its 2017 season with matches against the defending Big West South and North Division Regular Season Champions, respectively. Cal State Northridge also captured the conference tournament championship last season, and has advanced to the NCAA Tournament in three of the past five seasons overall. UC Santa Barbara, which plays at famed Harder Stadium which is set to host both the 2018 and 2020 NCAA Men’s Soccer College Cups after previously hosting in 2010, has made 12 NCAA Tournament appearances over the past 16 seasons and won the 2006 National Championship.
Siena is looking to build off a strong conclusion to the 2016 season in which the Saints went unbeaten in 10 of their final 13 matches to finish at 8-8-5 overall. Siena posted a 6-3-1 league mark to finish third in the MAAC, marking the program's highest conference standing in five seasons. The 2016 campaign culminated with the Saints hosting the program's first-ever postseason home match - a MAAC Quarterfinals shootout victory over rival Monmouth - followed by a hard fought semifinals shootout loss to eventual champion Rider.
Fresh off back-to-back MAAC Semifinals appearances, Siena was projected to finish fourth according to the conference's Preseason Coaches' Poll and also received one first-place vote. Senior captain Milorad Sobot - a 2016 Second Team All-MAAC selection - represented the Saints on the Preseason All-MAAC squad.
Siena's 2017 squad is comprised of a strong blend of veteran leadership coupled with a talented corps of newcomers. The Saints return nine seniors, while also welcoming nine newcomers including six true freshmen to the squad.
Sobot and fellow captain and fifth-year senior Danilo Markovic anchor a veteran backfield which returns 2016 MAAC All-Tournament Team selection in senior Aleksa Radosavljevic in goal. Radosavljevic appeared in all 21 matches last season, and led the MAAC with 87 saves.
Siena's midfield is expected to feature several of the team's talented newcomers, with sophomore and unanimous 2016 MAAC All-Rookie Team selection Conor McGlynn leading the unit. McGlynn burst onto the scene last fall, ranking tied for second in the conference with eight assists while adding a pair of game-winning goals.
Up front Siena returns battled tested senior striker Alexander Tejera who led the team last fall with 16 points on the strength of seven goals. Overall, the Saints return nearly half of their goal scoring from last season (16 of 33 goals).
Following Siena's season opening weekend in the Golden State, the Saints will return to the Capital Region to host George Mason for their home opener next Sunday, Sept. 3 at 1 p.m. That match kicks off the first of two, season-long three match homestands for Siena which includes non-conference contests vs. Holy Cross (Sept. 6) and Army West Point (Sept. 13).