by David Sutton
In any sport, it is important to start the season off on the right foot. The University of La Verne’s men’s soccer team did just that with a pair of road victories in Bridgewater, Va.
The Leos beat Bridgewater College, 3-2, and Juniata College, 3-1.
“We started the season off on a real positive note,” said Head Coach Owen Wright.
According to Wright, this year’s team shows a lot of desire and commitment.
“Our goal is to have fun and play as a team,” he said.
Playing as a team is something they did not get too much practice at during their late August practices.
“The recent heat has cut into our practices. Soccer is a game of constant running,” said Wright.
Recruiting has hurt the Leos this year. Wright feels that the lack of players hampers scrimmage efforts in practice.
“We must do a better job of recruiting,” said Wright.
Wright has a number of returners to this year’s team, including seniors Willie Sinon and Eddie Bustamante; juniors Darin Soliday, Eric Gleason and Peter Hopping; and sophomores Jeff Marsala, Dom Przybylski and Brian Richenberger.
The team has many new faces as well, including two international students. Wright considers senior Stewart Blair, a student from England, to be a key player. George Aroutunian is a senior from Moscow, Russia.
“He [Blair] helps a lot with his knowledge of the game,” said Wright.
Other new players for the Leos include transfers Steve Piazza, Tim Kyle, Manny Cruz and Seth Tunstall. New freshmen include Sean Piazza, Andy Decker, Chris Robertson and Gabe Trejo.
Winning a Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) title will not be easy for the Leos because the conference has several competitive teams.
“Claremont is the team to beat this year,” said Wright.
On Tuesday, the team lost to Pacific Christian, 6-1. The Leos had a 2-1 record going into last night’s match at Southern California College.
La Verne’s next match is Sept. 20 at Christian Heritage and it opens conference on Sept. 23, hosting Pomona-Pitzer.