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Pestello Speaks to Women's Soccer Team Before NCAA Championship

The start of a dynasty. That’s how history will remember this year’s women’s soccer team or so believes Saint Louis University President Fred Pestello, Ph.D.

Pestello spoke to the student-athletes Tuesday night following their final home training session before heading to North Carolina for this year’s NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship. 

“We have the potential here at SLU for you and what you build on, and for those who follow you and what they will do — with this coaching staff under coach (Katie) Shields — to build a dynasty in women’s soccer,” Pestello said

SLU President Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D., speaks to the women's soccer team.

SLU President Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D., speaks to the women’s soccer team in Robert R. Hermann Stadium Tuesday, on the eve before the Billikens head to North Carolina for this year NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship. Photo by Brian Kunderman/Billiken Athletics.

The Billikens are the No. 15 seed in the national tournament, marking the team’s third consecutive appearance in the NCAA Championship and fifth in program history.

SLU secured an automatic NCAA bid by capturing the A-10 Championship title on April 17, becoming the first women's soccer team in conference history to capture both regular-season and tournament titles in three consecutive seasons. 

At 15-1, the team owns the best 16-game record in program history and goes into the national tourney on the heels of a 10-game winning streak, having outscored its opponents 40-9 this season. 

“What an amazing year,” Pestello told the team. “What you have here is something special. I want you to know how proud I am of you; how proud our community is of you.”

Afterward, Pestello said it was important for him to speak to the student-athletes before they left St. Louis; to acknowledge all they have done for SLU and to let them know that community is behind them.

“It’s wonderful how — in the midst of all this isolation — this team is enjoying such great success,” Pestello said. “They’ve worked hard for this and they deserve this.”

University Director of Athletes Chris May said Pestello’s visit underscores the fact that the highest levels of leadership at the University support SLU’s student-athletes. And that’s meaningful message for all of them. 

“Everybody has been so supportive of these young women,” May said. “That support gives them the chance to really compete, and it’s an unbelievable blessing. We couldn’t be more grateful to have it and it’s why we’re seeing such great success.”

SLU earned a first-round bye in this year's NCAA Championship, which has been reduced from the customary 64 teams to 48, with the top 16 teams seeded into the second round. The entire tournament will be played at multiple locations in North Carolina. 

Each of the first four rounds will be available on NCAA.com, while the women’s national semifinals will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and the final will be broadcast live on ESPNU. There will be a watch party for Friday’s match starting at 6 p.m. in the Center for Global Citizenship. 

To learn more about the women’s soccer team, visit slubillikens.com.

SLU President Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D., speaks to the women's soccer team

Pestello shares a laugh with the women’s soccer team following their final home training session of the season. The Billikens play in the second round of the national tournament Friday. Photo by Brian Kunderman/Billiken Athletics