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Saturday’s match between #6 Saint Louis and #11 Missouri isn’t technically an elimination match, but it might as well be considered the first half of one.

Both SLU and Mizzou enter the contest with 4-0 records and extremely high point differentials. SLU has outscored its opponents 274-12 so far and Mizzou 180-19, proving the disparity within the Missouri Union, so the league title and its sole bid to the West Playoffs may come down to the aggregate score of Mizzou and SLU's two-game series.

If this season's series plays out anything like the last one, SLU will be returning to the postseason, having swept the Tigers in 2009/2010. But Mizzou coach Bill Brotemarkle is hopeful the last season's spring game is more indicative of what this weekend will bring than the blowout delivered by SLU last fall.

“I know the last couple years we’ve been on the short end of the situation as far as the score is concerned, but last year we were leading up until very late in the game and then we had some substitutions,” he said, “and sometimes when you substitute you disrupt the flow, the chemistry on the team, and we did and they were able to come from behind to beat us.”

Mizzou had a chance to reclaim the lead in the game’s waning seconds with a makeable penalty kick that sailed errantly, but those questionable substitutions still sit with Brotemarkle. He won’t make the same mistake this time around, but unfortunately, a couple personnel decisions won’t be up to him, as heavily contributing forwards Tim Brown and Ryan Scheidt won’t be available because they’ll be in Alabama trying out for the U20s.

“We’ve just got to work with what we have, and hopefully they’ll rise to the occasion,” said Brotemarkle. “We can’t replace Tim and Ryan, per se, but hopefully our guys will give us a good enough of a job that the loss won’t be major.”

Missouri seems to have been preparing for Saturday with a ship on its shoulder in seek of revenge. SLU’s been doing the exact opposite. Without a match Saturday, Whitton put the boys through a tough 8am practice but slotted the rest of the day for recreation.

“We had a bus that took us out and we did paintball most of the afternoon and then just had dinner and everything out as a team after that. It was a good time. Basically the team was together from probably eight in the morning until midnight, so it was kind of a good team bonding so to speak,” said Whitton.

“It kind of reenergized the guys as a unit. I think they’re ready to go. In the practice on Saturday they were about as crisp as they’ve looked all fall, so I think they’re piquing at the right time as a unit, and I think the rest of the things we did that day just kind of helped to build upon that a little bit.”

As always, the forward packs will have a big day cut out for them and will play a huge role, but most eyes will be on SLU’s backfield, led by inside center Matt Strohm, who spent the summer training with the London Wasps, and outside center and West all-star Alex DeGuire. Those two are the stars, but the entire unit is rather solid.

Ask Brotemarkle, though, and he’s happy with his bunch, too. “They’ve got some good, strong backs and they’re going to have to tackle,” he said, “but I think we’ve got some quick backs that can run with some people and we’ve got some people out there that can tackle.”