The Saint Martin’s University Men’s soccer team was ranked 6th in the preseason poll this year. The men have added 16 new players, totaling the roster to 37. Head coach Rob Walker previously coached both the men and women’s soccer programs. In the spring, Walker took over the men’s team full time for the 2017-2018 season. The Saints started off the preseason strong, winning their first three exhibition matches. The first match against Corban College ended in a 3-0 victory for the Saints. The second victory was against Northwest University, ending in a 2-1 victory. The third game ended with a 3-2 win over Pacific Lutheran University.
The Saints traveled to Portland, Ore. during the first weekend of September where they played two tough opponents, San Francisco State and Humboldt State. Senior McKray Kohn was able to get the ball in the back of the net during the first half in the first match against San Francisco State. Following his lead, Freshman Edgar Iniquez scored a second goal for SMU during the second half. Unfortunately, after a tough match the Saints weren’t able to finish anymore opportunities and fell 5-2 against their opponents. Following the loss, the Saints played Humboldt State where they out-shot their opponents 10 to 7 but weren’t able to capitalize any of their opportunities and fell 3-0.
The following weekend, the Saints traveled to California to play against California University State Los Angeles (CSULA) and California State University San Bernardino (CSUSB). SMU fought hard in both matches and ended with a 2-1 loss against the California universities. During the first match against CSULA, goalkeeper Griffin Small recorded 11 saves while forward Brandon Madsen claimed the only goal for SMU. Madsen recorded another goal in the 20th minute of the match against CSUSB. The CSUSB Coyotes tied the match 15 minutes later and took the lead with a second goal in the 40th minute. SMU outshot CSUSB 12-10 with 6 shots on frame.
Despite the tough losses, Rob Walker is proud of the way the men have played. He states that, “First and foremost, we have been competitive in all four games, despite losing all four. Three of the four teams competed in the top half of the CCAA (California Collegiate Athletic Association) last year, which is one of the biggest and most competitive D-II conferences in the country”.
Senior, McKray Kohn stated, “The biggest challenges we will face this season will be playing on the road as well as keeping players healthy mentally and physically. Last season we were very good at home but often gave up too many goals on the road. Being able to manage sleep, schoolwork, and practice will play a huge part in overcoming this challenge.” It can always be a challenge having so many new players join a team for any squad. SMU recruited 16 new players this season.
According to senior Christian Caro, “The mix of the new players with returning players has been surprisingly very good. It feels like we’ve been playing together for a much longer period of time.”
Freshman Brandon Kam Being stated, “being a new player has been really exciting and a lot of hard work, I’ve really enjoyed getting to know a good group of guys and building relationships that are going to last these next couple of years in order for us to compete competitively.”
Written by Lauren Allison, Staff Writer