CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Saint Louis sophomore forward Kingsley Bryce scored his third game-winning goal of the Atlantic 10 Conference Championship, and the Billikens rolled to a 3-0 victory against Virginia Commonwealth University Sunday to capture the A-10 title.
With the win, the Billikens improve to 16-4 overall and earn the A-10's automatic bid into the NCAA Men's Soccer Championship. By winning the A-10 title, along with their 16 wins and No. 9 ranking in the latest men's soccer RPI, Saint Louis greatly improves its chances of earning a first-round bye in the NCAA Tournament. That scenario would result in the Billikens hosting a second round game at Robert R. Hermann Stadium on Sunday, Nov. 18. The NCAA Championship field will be announced Monday at 4:30 p.m. (CT) on NCAA.com.
"It's a great feeling," A-10 Coach of the Year Mike McGinty said. "I'm so happy for our guys, they played their socks off. The A-10 is extremely competitive, this is a tough event to win. VCU is a great team, and Xavier and La Salle were great tests as well. We would also like to thank Charlotte and the A-10 for running a first-class event.
"Winning this tournament was high on our list of goals at the beginning of the season, as was making the NCAA Tournament," McGinty continued. "We look forward to resting up, getting healthy and seeing who we play in the NCAAs."
Bryce, who was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, was joined by junior forward Adnan Gabeljic, sophomore forward Robbie Kristo and junior goalkeeper Nick Shackelford on the A-10 All-Championship team.
Bryce scored a key goal early in the match, which set the tone. In the fifth minute, he touched home a corner kick from David Graydon for his seventh goal of the season and the third of the championship.
SLU tacked on another goal before halftime. Gabeljic, who started for the injured Robbie Kristo, scored on a breakaway at the 32:56 mark. He outraced several VCU defenders up the right side, and placed a shot just inside the far post to make it 2-0 Bills.
Sophomore midfielder William Hidalgo made it 3-0 at the 56:24 mark of the second half. Graydon sent a ball to the endline on the right side. Senior midfielder Nick Maglasang then centered a pass into the box that Hidalgo got a piece of to put the Billikens on top 3-0.
The SLU defense yielded just one VCU on frame. SLU out-cornered VCU 5-4.
Shackelford made one save in goal. The win, his 16th of the year, places him tied for fourth on SLU's single-season records list.
It's SLU's second A-10 crown, having previously won the conference title in 2009.