by Ryan Sones
Under the second year of head coach Michael Collins, the University of La Verne’s men’s soccer team prepares to reorganize team efforts into a winning season.
Coming off of a 4-15 overall record and a 3-7 SCIAC effort last season, the team’s strength will be on the shoulders of a large group of skilled returners, coupled with the introduction of nine new players.
“In order for us to win more games this year, we will need to reduce our goals against average,” said Collins. “We have the ability to score the goals and that is half the battle.”
Returning from last year’s squad are seniors, midfielders Aaron Jones and Matt Holquin, forward Sean Piazza; juniors, midfielder Armando Hernandez and defensive back Rudy Gutierrez; sophomores, goalkeeper Jon Castle, and midfielder Jorge Macias.
The overall feeling on the field is that there is less individualism as past seasons and more teamwork and hard work at practice bettering the chances of improving last year’s record.
“This year compared to the last two years are definitely different. We don’t have the individuals on the team and a lot more team on the team this season,” said Piazza.
The season is different this year due to the recruitment of up to 13 new players by Collins, with seven of the 13 recruits attending La Verne.
“Admissions and financial aid were the reasons we did not have more of the recruits we recruited,” said Collins. “Packages did not come through with all the players, however admissions and financial aid were able to really help with the seven we got.
“This is only the second year of the program since I was introduced as head coach. The wheels are starting to roll this season with the recruitment process I was working on since I started,” he said.
“Hard work, teamwork and just good work ethic in general will win us more games this year,” said Gutierrez. “Many of the other elements of the game that need to be taught the incoming players already possess.”
“Our speed on the field will help us out a lot this year because we have many more quick players this year as compared to just one or two like last season,” said Hernandez.
Freshman midfielder, Max Gebhardt said, “Hard work ethic, staying disciplined and being focused, not only the game field, but the practice field, from everyone, will win any team many games.”
“We are going to have a young team, but all these guys have the knowledge to be able to go out there and not just play but execute the game,” said Collins.
The men’s first match was yesterday in the Concordia Tournament, which continues today and tomorrow.
The first league match will be at home against Whittier Saturday, Oct. 4.
Journalism operations manager at the University of La Verne. Production manager and business manager of the Campus Times.