Victories over two NCAA Div. I schools spark team to hot start
By Melissa Bear
The men’s soccer team begins their first official season of NCAA Div. II play facing probably one of the toughest schedules they have faced in a number of years, according to Head Coach John Lynch.
“Right off the bat we have to play some really tough games, and we have to start the season ready to play,” he said.
Losing only a few seniors from last year’s team, Lynch feels his team is very strong and mentally prepared going into this year. He thinks his team has a great deal of talent and experience. “I think we have a good senior leadership,” Lynch said, adding it is the key to the success of the season.
Although the team overall has not undergone very many changes since last year. This year’s squad of seniors includes Joey Riley, Gerson Penza, Andres Jaramillo, A.J. Martin, Jordan Holtz and Jorgen Rosten, all of whom enter this season with plenty of experience, and should be some of the team’s strongest forces on the field.
Lynch is also pleased to have sophomore captain Neil Patrickson return after sitting out the 2005 season. Patrickson was an NAIA All-American his freshman year in 2004, and returns to the team ready to win.
“It felt weird coming back after sitting out a year, but once pre-season started, I just got back into the flow of things,” he said.
Lynch is also excited about the additions made to this year’s team as well, with the acquisition of several talented freshmen.
Glenn Josephik, a freshman transfer, will help the team tremendously with his strong, energetic presence the field, according to Lynch, with the other freshmen posing to have an impact on the season as well.
“Everyone seems to be fitting in so far, and it’s exciting to see,” Lynch said.
The team acquired two freshman keepers — Josiah Holtz and Zach Volpi — who Lynch feels are talented and will provide great depth for that position.
For the six seniors who have been teammates for three or four years, this season has somewhat a different atmosphere, due to the fact that there is no chance for post-season play.
Their goals for the season are all very similar. For some of them, it will probably be the last opportunity they will have to play competitively.
“We are trying to get back to a winning season, and win as many games as we can,” Penza said.
“For me, I am going to look at each game as an opportunity. With each game, it will be the last time I face those teams and those players, and I want to enjoy it as much as possible,” Holtz said.
Martin, who says he has had a great three years so far, wants his last season to be memorable for all of the guys. “There are some great players here, and I want us to have a great season,” he said.
The team has started with a strong 4-2 record, with decisive victories over traditionally strong NCAA Div. I programs Stetson University and Jacksonville University, scoring nine goals and only allowing three.
“We’ve played well, we’ve defended well, and we’ve gotten off to a strong start. Defense has been the key,” Lynch said.
The Saints next home game will be Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. when they take on Northwood University.