Preview: New-look Mountain Lions starting a new tradition
Youth and change are two key factors that the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs menâ€TMs soccer team are using to help create their new tradition.
The Mountain Lions enter this season with a new coaching staff, 15 newcomers, and only six upperclassmen to lead the team.
First-year head coach Henry Ellis doesnâ€TMt think bringing in so many new faces will pose a problem for the Mountain Lions this season and neither does his team.
â€œIâ€TMm not worried at all from what weâ€TMve seen so far,â€ said senior defenseman Ryan Buttner. â€œI know a lot of the new guys are definitely top-notch players and theyâ€TMre going to do fine here, theyâ€TMll fit right in.â€
Ellis is in agreement.
â€œItâ€TMs not even on my mind anymore as it was when we first started,â€ said Ellis. â€œFrom day one up until now I havenâ€TMt even thought about it, because itâ€TMs just been that good.â€
UCCS will be coming into the season with 20 underclassmen and where that inexperience comes into play the most is in the net.
â€œVery, very young as far as playing experience, but with two seniors on the backline weâ€TMre hoping thatâ€TMs going to help out a little bit,â€ said Ellis. â€œWith myself being a former goalkeeper and (assistant) coach (John) Sollock being a former goalkeeper, weâ€TMre pretty critical with those guys.
â€œWeâ€TMre really getting on them and not letting them get away with anything and weâ€TMve done a really good job of making them stay on their game and be very sound. Itâ€TMs been great for us so far.â€
Sophomore goalie Adam Liszewski posted a 1-6 record as a freshman for the Mountain Lions last season, but has shown definite improvements throughout the preseason this year with the more intensive training. Freshman goalie Sean Miller was named first-team all-Seamount League his senior year at Kennedy High School in Seattle, Wash., where he helped his team to the postseason championship. Both will see action in the net.
â€œWeâ€TMre really confident with our goalkeeping situation,â€ said Ellis. â€œWhoever gets that spot weâ€TMll be absolutely confident with.â€
The defense will be anchored by seniors Buttner and Greg Packer who played in 17 and 15 games respectively for the Mountain Lions last season. Junior Jeff Poburka and sophomore transfer Jaron Stewart from Incarnate Word will also help anchor the UCCS defense. Freshman Garrett Daves, Brad Clark, Ace Van Esselstine, and Cameron Cook will all be competing for playing time as defenders.
â€œTheyâ€TMre just all absolutely tenacious, all very athletic, and theyâ€TMve all got very good heads on their shoulders,â€ said Ellis.
The center midfielders will be led by senior Jeff Bettner, who started in all 19 games last season for the Mountain Lions and was named to the 2008 preseason all-Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference team. Sophomore Ryan Piechowski and sophomore Jacob Magistrelli, who played for the Golden Strikers of the Premier Arena Soccer League, will also help out in the midfield. Freshman Riley Gallagher and Marc Obando should both see some playing time as center midfielders.
Junior transfer Greg Miley will team the outside midfielders. In his first two seasons at University of Reading in England, he notched three goals and 10 assists in just 18 games. Sophomore transfer Jordan Dahlinger, a transfer from Doane, had four goals and three assists his freshman year. Miley and Dahlinger will be teamed with sophomores Nick Christopher, Bryan Manson and Isak Tengesdal, who saw action in 17, 14, and 10 games respectively as freshman last season for the Mountain Lions. Freshman Zach Culley will also be competing for playing time as an outside mid.
â€œOur outside mids right now, the big positive that they have is they came in fit and theyâ€TMre able to get up and down the field, which is absolutely critical in that position,â€ said Ellis. â€œWeâ€TMve really worked on the tactical side of where they need to be on the field, which really helps save them a little bit with their legs.â€
Sophomores Dami Oladiran and Mike Mason will see action as forwards. Adding experience to the forwards will be junior Dan Smith who transferred from Huntington. Freshman Matt Friesen, who was a prolific scorer at Rampart High School by notching 27 goals his senior year, will undoubtedly see some playing time. Freshman Donny Stone, who had a goal and an assist in the teamâ€TMs exhibition game against Carthage, will also see playing time as a forward.
â€œThatâ€TMs probably an area where were really going to have to work on a little bit,â€ said Ellis. â€œThereâ€TMve definitely been a couple guys that stepped up with some very, very pleasant surprises.
â€œTheyâ€TMve put some really nice work together and as long as we stay connected we shouldnâ€TMt have an issue with not being able to put balls in the back of the net.â€
With all the newness and changes this year, Ellis and his team have high hopes for this season and hope to create a new tradition at UCCS. After a 3-16 record last season, the team is expecting a lot more wins this year and the fans should too.
â€œIâ€TMm expecting a lot more wins, so they should be and I think it will just be a whole other atmosphere in the stands,â€ said Buttner. â€œItâ€TMs a lot easier to come cheer for a team thatâ€TMs winning.â€
The fans should also be expecting a lot more fun and should enjoy watching the team play this season.
â€œMountain Lion pride â€" thatâ€TMs what itâ€TMs all about when you get to the college level and we want them out there, we want their support, said Ellis. â€œI feel weâ€TMre going to have a good show for them, I think it will be a good, entertaining time.â€
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
|xsl:value-of select="@CoachName" />|
|Ace Van Esselstine||19|
|Ace Van Esselstine||19|
|Additional News Stories|
|December 3, 2008||Ellis, Friesen do season recap show on radio||UCCS men's soccer coach Henry Ellis and freshman Matt Friesen did a season recap show on UCCS Radio on Wednesday.|
|November 5, 2008||Bettner, Friesen, and Miley named to all-RMAC soccer team||University of Colorado at Colorado Springs senior Jeff Bettner was named to the first-team all-Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference soccer team, the conference announced Wednesday.|
|November 2, 2008||UCCS ends season with loss||COLORADO SPRINGS â€“ Ted Decker had the only goal as Colorado Mines won 1-0 over the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs on Sunday afternoon at Mountain Lion Stadium.|
|October 31, 2008||Friesen matches school record as UCCS beats Colorado Christian||LAKEWOOD â€“ Freshman Matt Friesen had a hat trick and added two assists to lead the University of Colorado of Colorado Springs to a 7-0 win over the Colorado Christian Cougars Friday afternoon.|
|October 29, 2008||Meyer, first UCCS all-American, named to RMAC all-time team||Greg Meyer, the first all-American in University of Colorado at Colorado Spring history, was named to the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference All-Time Menâ€™s Soccer Team, the conference announced Wednesday.|