Soccer seniors set high goals

Senior captains expect nothing less than winning GSAC as they prepare for their final season at Biola.

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Junior midfielder Joey O’Keefe high-kicked for the ball at the game against San Diego Christian College last season. |  Johnathan Burkhardt/THE CHIMES [file photo]

Jack Finck, Writer

The men’s soccer spring semester can hardly be called an offseason. Three days a week they meet on the field at 6:30 in the morning, along with four other practices in the week and three scrimmages throughout the semester.

After finishing just above .500 last season, the team lost in the first round of the Golden State Athletic Conference to Vanguard University, ending the season early. This disappointing finish has motivated the team throughout the semester to prepare for the 2015 season.

Team head coach Todd Elkins transitioned this season from being the head coach of both men’s and women’s soccer at Biola to only being the head coach of the men’s team and assistant coach for the women’s. Elkins has held a cumulative record of 21-10-5 in his two years in the position.

“I think it will be great,” said senior captain Stephen Tanquary. “Being a coach is an enormous commitment, so the fact that he’s been doing both the men’s and the women’s college team  —I’m sure it’s a lot to take care of. So even though he will still be involved as an assistant for the women’s team, the fact that he’s solely our head coach now I think will be a lot easier on him, and a lot better overall for both programs.”

Biola has eight seniors returning to play next season, including four players who have played for the Eagles the previous three years. The two senior captains, Joey O’Keefe and Tanquary, both received All-GSAC honors last season.

“We’ve got very high expectations,” O’Keefe said. “Signed a couple of transfers, probably about three transfers that are expected to come in and play major minutes. Expectations are real high. The first expectation is winning conference and then after conference we’ll go from there.”

The team’s conference rival Concordia University-Irvine will not be in GSAC this year as they transition to the NCAA. The Eagles lost to Concordia in the GSAC Tournament championship game in 2013. Biola suffered a 3-2 defeat as Concordia scored in the last five minutes of regulation. Their last game against each other as GSAC competitors ended in a 3-3 tie.

“Although a lot of the teams are moving out, there are strong teams coming in and strong teams still remain and there’s no game that we take lightly,” Tanquary said.

Biola’s main competition in the upcoming season will come from Vanguard University. After the Lions beat the Eagles in the GSAC tournament, they advanced to the quarterfinals of the NAIA National Tournament where they lost to the University of Northwestern Ohio 1-3. The Eagles managed to tie Vanguard in a 0-0 shutout earlier in the year.

The 2015 season will kick off with a scrimmage on Aug. 21 against California State University Los Angeles. Biola’s first regular season game will be at home against Northwest University on Aug. 26.

“It’s reaching the national tournament,” O’Keefe said. “Nothing short of winning conference and winning the conference tournament. Anything outside of winning the tournament isn’t going to be good enough.”

 

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