SLU 2022-23 Fall sports preview


Yumi Domange

SLU’s upcoming sports games look to be a challenge, but not ones the Lions cannot face.

As new seasons of fall sports approach, Southeastern Louisiana University athletics start to heat up again, as the teams look to possibly have their best collective campaigns yet. 

Lion’s football reached the second round of the FCS playoffs while men’s and women’s basketball made it to their respective conference championship games with the men’s team taking home the inaugural Southland Conference Tip-Off tournament. Not to mention cross country, soccer and volleyball who will all look to improve their records, places and performances from the season prior. 

These results from the 2021-22 season show significant promise for Southeastern fans to have a chance to have multiple conference championships throughout all sports. 

With fall athletics on the horizon, the seasons ahead are likely to be exciting for the Lions.

SLU football has suffered critical losses to the roster, such as star quarterback Cole Kelley graduating. The team will look to replace these players with new potential stars. QB Cephus Johnson III looks to run all over the defense, literally and figuratively. 

The Southland Conference has polled SLU as the favorites to win the Southland, giving more confidence to all SLU football personnel and shining a light on what could be Southeastern’s first FCS college football national championship. The green and gold will begin their season in Lafayette, La., against ULL on Sep. 3 at Cajun Field. In addition, two new Southland matchups against newly joined conference teams Lamar and Texas A&M Commerce are worth noting as well as a Sep. 24 home contest against defending Southland Conference champions Incarnate Word. 

Southeastern men’s hoops and reigning Southland Conference Coach of the Year, David Kiefer, will be in for an interesting season with so many new faces. The Lions lost their entire starting five from a team that went 10-4 in Southland play and fell one game short of an NCAA Tournament berth after losing to Texas A&M Corpus-Christi in the Southland Conference Championship game. 

Southland Conference defensive player of the year, Jalyn Hinton, and second team All-Southland conference selection Keon Clergeot both signed pro contracts overseas with Uppsala Basket (Sweden) and MBK Handlová (Slovakia). First team All-Southland Conference member and SLU’s leading scorer Gus Okafor transferred to Wichita State during the offseason for his senior year. Graduate transfer and three-point specialist Ryan Burkhardt finished out his final year of eligibility while Joe Kasperzyk transferred closer to home for his senior year. The Connecticut native will finish his collegiate career playing for Niagara University in New York. Former Kansas State transfer Antonio Gordon also decided to leave the Lion’s program after an underwhelming season. He joins DII school Oklahoma Christian University as he returns to his home state. 

Southeastern does bring in an impressive trio of signees for the 2022-23 recruiting class. 

The Lions also used the transfer portal to its advantage bringing in a pair of guard transfers in graduate student Boogie Anderson from South Dakota and senior Christian Agnew from UTEP. Sophomore forward Donte Houston also transferred in from UT-Rio Grande Valley. 

Similar to the men’s team, SLU Women’s basketball will need to replace a lot of production in the fall as it loses four of its top five scorers who were also one game away from clinching an NCAA Tournament appearance after falling short to UIW in the Southland Conference Championship game. Caitlyn Williams, Morgan Carrier, Morgan Davis and Breonca Ducksworth make up the key departures from last year’s group.

Williams and Carrier will hurt in particular, as Williams was a first-team All-Southland conference selection this past season and Carrier was named to the third team. Fellow third-teamer Hailey Giaratano is the Lady Lions most proven returnee. She and the rest of the squad will be supported by four newcomers: Jen Pierre, Allasia Washington, Terri Crawford and Taylor Dupree. Pierre and Washington are both incoming freshmen who signed with Southeastern out of Amite High and Madison Prep Academy. Crawford and Dupree join the green and gold via the transfer portal from Central Arkansas and UT Martin. 

Lady Lions soccer looks to continue to rise with rookie head coach Nathan Gillespie. However, SLU soccer will have to cope without former Southland Conference 2020 coach of the year, Christopher McBride, who departed from the program in the offseason to become ULL’s head coach.

Southeastern finished the 2021 season at 7-9-3. However, the record does not consider Hurricane Ida’s impact on the team and the injuries that plagued Southeastern sports and south Louisiana as a whole. The Lady Lions’ journey starts with three away games in Mississippi vs. Mississippi State (exhibition), Ole Miss and Jackson State for a chance for Southeastern to show their strength right at the beginning of the season. 

The Lady Lions volleyball team looks to travel around the United States on their way to victory, with tournaments taking place in Texas, Queens, New York, the Battle of the Boot tournament in Hammond and much more. The ladies ended their season with a record of 9-18. The team showed significant improvement towards the end of the 2021 season, winning 9 of their last 17 matches after starting the season 0-10.

Lastly, the cross country team looks to run over the competition with last year being stellar for the runners. The team reached the NCAA National Championships in 2021, with most of the roster returning, including championship runner Bradley Makuvire. 

The Fall semester of 2022-23 looks optimal for championships regarding Southeastern sports with all teams on the rise and some already reaching the title the prior year, giving the groups experience and a chip on their shoulders to boost their confidence in potentially one of the best semesters SLU sports has ever had.