SIU Soccer Celebrates First Home Match with Huge Crowd

Aug 19, 2019

The SIU Saluki Athletics Department is still buzzing about the crowd that turned out for the school's first-ever women's soccer home exhibition match.

Over two thousand people turned out for the match Saturday night at the Lew Hartzog Track and Field Complex.

Monday, Head Coach Grant Williams said he was thrilled with the atmosphere.
"Time is a precious commodity, just as much as anything else is. The fact that people would give us a couple of hours - and for the people who tailgated in the parking lot, several hours of their Saturday - I hope that they truly enjoyed the experience. I hope they recognized how historic that was."

Players from SIU and SEMO lineup with youth soccer players before the start of the match in Carbondale on Aug. 17, 2019.
Credit Brad Palmer, WSIU Radio

To put the crowd of 2,149 into perspective, Saluki Athletics said almost one-third of all Division One schools didn't draw 2,149 fans in all their home games combined last season.

"I'm certainly not naïve enough to think that's going to be our draw each and every match we have," Williams said. "But, it certainly shows that if we invest in the community and make them aware of what we're doing, if we can generate some excitement, if we can put a product out that they are proud to associate and call their team, for me, there is no reason not to believe that we are not going to grow this into a really, really special soccer environment."

SIU hosts its first-ever regular season match Friday at 6:30 p.m.