EDWARDSVILLE - The Edwardsville High boys soccer team is returning very skilled and experienced players to the team as the Tigers are underway with preparations for the upcoming season.

The Tigers were 15-4-3 last year, being eliminated in the final of their own regional a year ago in heartbreaking fashion by O'Fallon, who won in the final second of extra time 1-0 on a goal off a scramble in front of the Edwardsville net. The summer offseason workouts went well for the Tigers and head coach Mark Heiderscheid was very pleased on how everything went.

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As always, expectations are high for the team, and there's enough talent and experience to produce outstanding results for the Tigers.

"I have high expectations, as I do every season," Heiderscheid said. "This team has much depth and great character and work rate. Our attacking options are varied and we have many potential goal scorers. The midfield is so potent, with the ability to both build possession but also to put people in on the counter. Our back line has a great leader and competition for starter minutes with the depth we have on this roster. The goalkeeping is quite solid.

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The Tigers schedule is as good and competitive as it gets in the area, and it starts on Aug. 22 at Belleville Althoff Catholic in the Metro Cup showcase event. Edwardsville will play the host Crusaders on Aug. 24, then plays its home opener Aug. 30 in a Southwestern Conference blockbuster against Collinsville. The Tigers will also play in a tournament at Morton on Labor Day weekend and also have games against Normal Community, Rockwood Marquette, Waterloo Gibault Catholic and CBC, along with the Southwestern Conference teams.

"Our schedule is quite ambitious," Heiderscheid said. "We drew three of the toughest teams in our tournament for week one. Our Morton tournament comes quickly in September and is not short on talent from the Peoria and Chicagoland areas. All told, we have a rigorous 22-game schedule to prepare us for the state finals."

Overall, Heiderscheid is very optimistic about the upcoming season and enjoys being back with his players.

"I am highly optimistic with this group of players," Heiderscheid said. "I always love my soccer teams, but this team certainly makes that easy."

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