M-Soccer: Getting their kicks
Lions 2012 Team Preview
Coach Oancea assesses the Pride
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- A year after notching their first winning record, the men’s soccer team at Southwestern Assemblies of God University sets out to prove it was no accident.
The Lions’ 10-9-5 mark left the team hungry to accomplish more.
In 2011 they also won the National Christian College Athletic Association’s Central Regional by sweeping three games. At the NCCAA Nationals in Orlando, their season ended with an 0-2-1 finish in which they played well.
SAGU improved from last in the Red River Athletic Conference to seventh with a 4-5-2 ledger. They narrowly missed the RRAC post-season tournament, which the top six teams qualify.
This year’s squad remembers the wins, but they also recall the near-misses of draws and losses late in games. The taste of success above the .500 mark is driving them.
So is new Head Coach Clementin “Clem” Oancea. The former standout for the Romanian National team wants the Lions to focus on disciplined play, defense and an attacking style of offense.
He’s also instilling a bigger picture; a vision of soccer as way to build bridges with the community and a vehicle for sharing the good news of the gospel.
Coach Oancea (WAHN-cha), who also works with the FC Dallas professional soccer team in community outreach, has much more than a European accent.
His mentoring spirit and concepts of “the beautiful game” is fostering a near tangible camaraderie. It is clear the players enjoy the process and the plan.
Along with new Assistant Coach, Alejandro “Alex” Vazquez, Oancea installed tri-captains in the spring, and they are exemplary ambassadors for the team; Senior Danny Martinez (Houston, Tx / Cypress Creek HS), and sophomores Cesar Galvan (Dallas, Tx / Lovejoy HS) and Jonathon “Colocho” Ramos (Tegucigalpa, Honduras / Garringer HS). All are anchors for this unit.
Martinez is a gifted 5’10 forward. Agile and quick, he appears to glide more than he does to run. He is one of several scorers on the team, though he is an obvious target for passes – on the ground and in the air.
He also draws sufficient attention of opponents, which is fine with him. It opens doors for others on the front line and attacking midfielders.
Last fall he scored an RRAC-leading 15 goals and his eight assists ranked him third in the league. He scored three game-winning goals. His 38 total points was also tops in the Red River.
His partners for the Pride are many, though his connection with left winger Parker Sturgeon (Bartlesville, Ok / Bartlesville HS) seems cosmic. The dashing Sturgeon, just a sophomore, is also a dual threat to put the ball in the back of the webbing or as an enabler with passes. His 10 assists were second in the RRAC.
Fans will appreciate the work of Colocho (means ‘curly top’) Ramos. The wiry winger can score though his footwork during weaves through the defense could spell 'Mississippi.' He added seven assists in 2011 as SAGU produced three of the RRAC’s top five in the category.
Borrowing a term from the Jason Bourne book series, Martinez, Sturgeon and Ramos are “outcome agents.” They make things happen!
Center Midfielder Salvador Avila (Irving, Tx / McArthur HS) was ninth with five, while defender Sam Mills (Janesville, Wisc / Mills Family Christian Academy), at 6’1, ranked 15th in the league with four. Both are sophomores.
Oancea has added to the mix with a collection of new catalysts; Carlos Gonzalez (Los Angeles, Ca / Latin America Bible Institute), Joel Ramirez (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS), Lee Kounas () and Robert Ambrosie (Lasi, Romania) to name a few.
While the aforementioned are offensive instigators, the defense works in reverse, preventing enemy scoring episodes.
Chief among the defenders is senior David Flores (Farmers Branch, Tx / RL Turner HS). He is a human stop sign. Often expressionless, he sees his job as rainmaker for opposing scoring parades.
Joining him this year is James Swearingin (Arlington, Tx / Homeschool), who has taken his quickness and strength from forward to defense this season. But he will still venture to the front when the opportunity opens.
Nathan Dyke (Waxahachie, Tx / Waxahachie HS) has similar disposition. As a defenseman, he can step into the offensive battle zone, as 10 goals during his senior season for the Indians illustrates.
The last line of defense, the keepers of the goal, reveals two very sufficient goalies for SAGU. Galvan is athletic and loquacious from the back line. His 5’6 size has duped many an opponent, who has discovered Spiderman-like skills in the colorful Galvan.
He ranked #20 in the NAIA in saves (108 saves, 5.14 per game) and was fifth in the RRAC in goals against average (1.58).
Cesar Espana (Katy, Tx / Cinco Ranch HS), at 5’11, does not lack confidence. In 2011 he started a handful of games and proved more than competent.
SAGU averaged 1.96 goals per game, which was seventh in the RRAC. Their 47 goals were bested only by UT-Brownsville (55), who averaged 2.62.
Defensively, the Lions were sixth, surrendering 39 goals in 24 games, a 1.63 norm. Huston-Tillotson University was tops, allowing just 17 in 22 games, and an 0.77 average.
Following the Lions' tracks
A growing fan base will be glad to know they can follow the Lions on-line. LiveStats, a digital webcast, carries the score, time and description of key accounts of home games, along with team and player statistics in real time, will be provided this season.
Also, two home matches will be aired by SAGU TV. Southwestern is the only NAIA school in the nation to broadcast athletic games in authentic HD (high definition). The chosen games are on September 8 and October 20.
Three home matches: Aug. 28, Sept. 1, 3
The Lions first appearance at home will be on Tuesday, August 28, during a scrimmage against Hill College. The 5:00pm exhibition is free to the general public.
Their official home opener is next Saturday, September 1, when Sterling College visits at 3pm. They also have a Labor Day match two days later, Sept. 3. SAGU will take on Southwestern College at 1pm. Both Sterling and SC are from Kansas.
The SAGU soccer pitch is located on campus, behind the Sheaffer Center. Fans can locate the field by taking Highway 77 south of 287, then turning right onto East University (between Burger King and Big Lots). The east entry to the campus will be on the right.
Campus Security at the entrance can assist newcomers, though two rights after turning at the flag poles will bring fans to the field and parking on the right.