Men’s soccer looks to return to NAIA as fall season prep begins

Men’s soccer look to return to the NAIA tournament in 2013, following a semi successful 2012 season.


Grant Walter

The men’s soccer team looks to build off of a sub-par 2012 season with a new head coach and a new crop of incoming freshmen to bolster the squad. | Grant Walter/THE CHIMES

Tyler Gunhus, Writer

The men’s soccer team looks to build off of a sub-par 2012 season with a new head coach and a new crop of incoming freshmen to bolster the squad. | Grant Walter/THE CHIMES

With spring sports coming to a close, preparations have already begun for fall sports. Men’s soccer is looking to storm into the 2013 campaign, eyeing another Golden State Athletic Conference title and a trip back to the NAIA tournament.

Elkins at the helm

The biggest change men’s soccer will face heading into the fall is the transition from Bryan Kuderman to Todd Elkins as head coach. Elkins enters having successfully led the women’s soccer team over the past few years, and will take over a newly created position called director of soccer.

While juggling both men’s and women’s programs has presented some concerns, many within the team feel that Elkins is a great fit for the type of game the men are looking to play.

“Elkins is a lot more possession-oriented,” junior forward Daniel Chew said. “We’re going to be playing a lot more passing and a lot more controlled soccer.”

Junior forward Carlos Ballesteros added that while the situation may not be ideal, people are adjusting well.

“So far, we all like him,” Ballesteros said. “We’ve had to adjust to a different style, since every coach plays the game a little bit different. But everything’s good. A lot of guys are really enjoying his training sessions.”

Both Chew and Ballesteros will play huge roles as seniors in the upcoming season. With Ballesteros shifting to a more offensive-minded forward, the two will look to play off of each other up front.

Eagles solid at home

One of the key aspects of the 2012 season was the success the men had at home. The Eagles were a cool 6-1 at Al Barbour field, with the one loss coming at the very end season against The Master’s College.

“It’s always way easier to play at home,” Ballesteros said. “You have your fans who get you pumped up and your daily rituals stay the same. When you play away, though, you have to figure different things out, and travel, and try to play your game with opposing fans. It just makes things difficult.”

Freshmen play huge role

With defender Ben Ortega and midfielders Tony Montalvo and Julio Cuevas all absent next year due to their current senior status, there will also be a good deal of pressure on the incoming 2013 recruiting class. On top of that, after the impressive strides made by freshmen this past year, the incoming class has some huge shoes to fill.

“I don’t know at this point what to expect from the next group of freshmen,” Ballesteros said. “I do know that this last freshman class really stepped it up, and that’s going to be hard to replicate.”

Freshman midfielder Joey O’Keefe contributed three goals and three assists after starting in most of the games as a freshman. John Hanscom also provided the necessary offensive charge when the Eagles needed it. Aside from scoring the game winner in a mid-season matchup against San Diego Christian College, the freshman midfielder finished the season with five goals and three assists.

High hopes for upcoming season

With the Eagles looking to kick off the season well, spring training will continue up until the summer. After that the men wait, through personal training and preparation, for their first match of the 2013 season, which kicks off in early September.

While it’s too early to tell the outcome or project the success that next season will bring, confidence is in full supply.

“We’re going to win them all,” Ballesteros said. “19-0.”

0 0 votes
Article Rating