Men's Soccer: A New Era Begins
Lions start anew with three games this week
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- "When hope is hungry, everything feeds it" – Mignon McLaughlin.
Hope springs eternal and fosters an optimism that newness is coming at dawn. But in the sports world, hope and emotion will only carry you so far. Teams inevitably must perform to win. And there is a growing hope among the Southwestern Assemblies of God University Lions men's soccer team that there is more that is changing than the new uniforms they will put on this season.
With Aaron DeLoach, the Lions not only have a new, young head coach who has played professionally here in the United States, but new energy and insights that are fueling a fresh breed of talent with hopeful optimism.
A year ago the squad started strong but finished on an eight-game losing skid, posting a 5-10 mark. Much of the core of that team returns, and combined with an interesting recruiting class, could see SAGU push for a post-season tournament berth in the Red River Athletic Conference. The Lions have yet to have a winning season in their brief nine-year history. This could be the year.
"We have an entirely different spirit on the team," said senior forward Bryan King (Springfield, Mo / Kickapoo HS), "than the one we ended with last fall. I am very excited about our new coach and the way he is equipping us." The Purple Pride went 0-8 in league games, being outscored by an average of 4-1.
Coach DeLoach has infused the veteran holdovers. Lane Best (Temple, Tx / Cedar Valley College) will likely anchor the back line of defense, with Shelby Smith (Round Rock, Tx / Stony Point HS) and Sam Cabrera (Tampa, Fl / Hillsborough Community College) directing the midfield area. King, who tied Jesse Eggman last year in goals scored with seven, also had five assists in 2009. He is being counted on as a scoring threat up front. He is very effective in transition and on direct kicks.
"I believe those guys will make significant contributions," DeLoach said last week during summer camp.
Team Captains Named
This year's squad will be led by a pair of upperclassmen. It was announced last week that King, a senior, and Cabrera, a junior, are Co-Captains for the 2010 team. The are pictured here, with King wearing number 2. Cabrera has switched to 25 for home games.
Other performers who provide the team with experience are: Israel Belford, forward; Weston Clark (Prescott Valley, Az / Bradshaw Mountain HS), defender; Glorie Ndongala, midfield; Jonathan Rumfield (Tomball, Tx / Tomball HS), midfield; James Swearingen, forward; possibly Jonathan Garcia (Waxahachie, Tx / Navarro College), midfielder and defender Fernando Lariz, Jr. (Ft. Worth, Tx / Tarrant Community College).
New Players This Season
The incoming class of recruits is stating cases for playing time. They are: Joe Ballah (Charlotte, NC / Independence HS), forward; David Flores, defenseman; Cesar Galvan (Dallas, Tx / Lovejoy HS), goalkeeper; Diego Garcia, midfield; Carlos Gonzales, forward; Rolando Hernandez (Michoacan, Mexico / Central Piedmont Community College), midfielder; Brenden Kowalski, defender; Deng Mabour, defender; Jesus Martinez, forward; Trevor Maye, midfielder; Emmanuel Paz (Houston, Tx / Westfield HS), midfield; Jonathan Ramos (Tegucigalpa, Honduras / Garinger HS), midfielder; Mark Saxton (Holbrook, Az / Holbrook HS), goalie; Jonathan Segundo (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS), forward; James Sio, forward; Jose Tellez, defender; Alex Vasquez, midfielder; Matt Walz, forward; Mugabo Yves (Charlotte, NC / Central Piedmont Community College), midfielder;
So far, two Lions will redshirt this season as freshmen: Jeovanny Ordaz (Veracruz, Mexico / Garinger HS) and Fernando Pinera.
Scrimmage Reveals Reasons for Optimism
The newcomers were on display on Thursday during a scrimmage against Western Texas College, a nationally ranked two-year school from Snyder, Texas. The Westerners went 17-5-2 a year ago, losing in the national playoffs to eventual champion Tyler Junior College, 4-3. They defeated the Lions, 6-3, in a match that began with a heat index of 126 according to SAGU Athletic Trainer, Jaroy Carpenter, who monitors weather conditions during sporting events.
"We scored three great goals," DeLoach pointed out, "and created some other good chances." Flores, a defender, forward Segundo and netminder Galvan had "standout performances" the coach said.
While fans may notice a more potent offensive attack, the defense will need to pick up the pace. "Our corners need some work," DeLoach pointed out. Western scored on a pair of well-placed corner kicks. "Plus, our man-marking was a bit sloppy at times through the midfield. But we'll certainly tighten up on that," the former Charlotte Eagles player-turned SAGU head coach said.
The Lions recorded goals by Segundo (SEH-goon-DOE), Cabrera and King forced an own-goal. Ballah and King were about to knock in a rebound when a Western defender, in an attempt to clear the ball, deflected it in the net accidentally. From the sideline it appeared that King had buried it.
Segundo's tally was a beauty. Mugabo Yves (pronounced MOO-gah-BO EEV-s) sent a cross to Ballah (BAH-lah), who passed back to Segundo, who one-timed a 16-foot blast past a defenseless keeper. King would have added a second goal had his header on a Smith assist not been waved off for offsides.
Galvan's incredible reflexes between the pipes were impressive. He made numerous saves with late, cat-quick dives, including one that robbed a WTC forward of a shot from point-blank range.
Five new players this year were part of a Christian soccer club in North Carolina that was coached by DeLoach. "They fully believe that God has a plan for their lives in speaking the Gospel to the nations from their soccer platform," the new coach says. "Plus, they add talent and an international flavor to our team."
Those players include Ballah (born in Liberia), Rolando Hernandez (Mexico), Jeovanny Ordaz (Mexico), Jonathan Ramos (Honduras) and Mugabo Yves (Rwanda).
First Six Games include two against former SAGU Coaches
Southwestern's 2010 season gets jump started this week with three road games. On Monday, August 23, they will take on Central Baptist College in Conway, Arkansas, 340 miles from Waxahachie. The contest starts at 5:00pm. SAGU hopes to avenge a 5-0 setback at the hands of the Mustangs last August.
Over two hundred miles separates the Lions from their second opponent, Mid America Christian, located in Oklahoma City, Ok. They will meet on Wednesday, Aug. 25, at 4:00pm. The Evangels had an 11-10-1 mark last year, including a 2-6-1 record in the Sooner Athletic Conference.
The Lions return home to face the University of Texas at Dallas on Saturday, Aug. 28, at 11am. The Comets were 9-7-3 last season, going 6-6-1 in the American Southwest Conference. SAGU completes a four-game, season-starting stretch of away games with a clash at Dallas Christian College on Aug. 31, at 5:00pm. The Crusaders' head coach, Thiago Goncalves, was a former assistant coach for the Lions in 2006.
On the same day the Lions football team begins their new campaign, the soccer Lions make their home debut with a September 4 battle against Dakota Wesleyan. The Tigers will make a 785 mile (Mitchell, SD) trek to play the Lions in a 1:00pm encounter that brings former Southwestern head coach, Jeremy Tosaya, back to campus. DWU had a 4-11-1 ledger a season ago. Two days later, on Labor Day, SAGU plays host to Southwestern College, of Winfield, Kansas. The 1pm encounter pits the Moundbuilders, 1-15-1 in 2009, against the Lions in game six of a 19-game regular season.
SAGU will don home white jerseys this season. They have horizontal purple pinstripes with purple and gold numerals and a school logo on the left crest. The older but popular yellow outfits will now be worn on the road.
There are other changes at Southwestern Field, the most obvious is the long banner that adorns the northeast fence behind the goal. A 30-foot tower has been erected next to the equipment barn, enabling video-taping of both soccer and football action. The team benches have been enhanced with purple interiors, plus, two other important projects.
Field work has been done to raise the level of the surface along the sideline near the covered benches and in the southwest corner, along with fortifying the existing turf to a richer green. The flag pole will be lit for both the American flag and a customized SAGU flag. According to Coach DeLoach, much of the work this summer has been done by the Aramark staff, specifically praising the effort of Shuan Roberts for his labor on the grounds. Coach Tim Grant has given much attention and detail to the projects as well.
The top two teams in the Red River a season ago look to stay on top. The University of Texas at Brownsville (17-0-2) is ranked #15 in the NAIA Pre-Season Coaches Poll a year after going 8-0 in the RRAC. Huston-Tillotson was #2 to the Scorpions with a 10-6-1 mark overall, 7-1 in league games.