SAN ANTONIO (Aug. 12, 2016) -- Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) men's soccer hopes the 2016 season will be a successful one as the University celebrates its 10th anniversary as a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).
Head Coach Shane Hurley, the first coach hired by the University, looks forward to the 10th season. "I think it's an exciting time for the University. We had humble beginnings and a shoestring budget. But we had a very good [inaugural] recruiting class, and going forward, we have been able to sustain our ability to recruit good students on the field and in the classroom."
The men will begin their season on Wednesday, Aug. 17, with a scrimmage at San Jacinto College in Houston.
The Saints finished out last season with an overall 9-8 record and 4-4 in the Red River Athletic Conference (RRAC). They made their seventh consecutive trip to the RRAC Championship Tournament, where they tied 0-0 with the University of the Southwest in the quarterfinals match. The Saints lost to the Mustangs in a 3-4 penalty kick shootout to end their season.
|Senior Captain Juan Carlos Vasquez|
"Our last four games of the season, we had a great goal-against average and were very stingy in that regard; we just couldn't put the ball back into the net," Hurley said. "We had a great spring, winning games against several teams including the reserve team of the San Antonio FC, NCAA Division I UT-Rio Grande Valley and NCAA D 2 St. Mary's University. As long as we stay healthy, and get better at putting the ball through the net, I think we'll do well this season."
After the scrimmage against San Jacinto, the Saints will play another scrimmage against Texas Lutheran University on Aug. 19 and then the Saints alumni team on Aug. 20. Both games are at home.
"It's the one game I really look forward to because I love seeing all of our alumni. They played an important part in developing our program that can be nationally competitive."
Many former players make their annual trip to the alumni game, some from the most recent seasons, but many are from OLLU's inaugural team and a few years after that. Many bring their children and wives, as well as their enthusiasm and love for OLLU and the game of soccer.
Seniors and Returners
|Senior Captain Jared Poling|
Seniors Jared Poling (SR/Keller, Texas) and Juan Carlos Vasquez (SR/Naples, Fla.) will be the new captains this season, and they will join second-year captain Angel De la Garza (SR/Brownsville, Texas). De la Garza was named to the First-Team All-Conference the last three seasons, and all three are RRAC scholar athletes.
Hurley commended the three captains, saying, "They are good leaders. They've been successful on the field and in the classroom as well as socially. And, they've been doing that since they were freshmen."
Other seniors include Jose Gomez (SR/Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico), Nickolas Tyrpak (SR/Dripping Springs, Texas), Sergio Gonzalez (SR/Paramount, Calif.) and Jonathan Garay (SR/Houston, Texas). Also Igor Nunes do Nascimento (SR/Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), 2015 RRAC All-Tournament selectee, and Marco Perales (SR/Edinburg, Texas), a 2015 All-Conference Second-Team selectee.
"This is a great group of seniors – some have been here since their freshmen year, some of them as starters, some of them coming in and off the field, but they are players who have consistently contributed in one way or another to a positive mentality and work ethic in training," Hurley explained.
The Saints have one returning junior, Homero Trevino (JR/Edinburg, Texas), and sophomores Jorge Cavazos (SO/McAllen, Texas), Adrian Delgado (SO/Brownsville, Texas), Juan Pablo Olazaba (SO/Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico), Oscar Barboza (SO/Mexico City, Mexico), Luis Sanchez (SO/San Antonio, Texas) and Adam Bieker (SO/McAllen, Texas).
Newcomers include senior Hugo Plascencia (SR/El Paso, Texas); junior Kane Thomas (JR/St. Albans, England); sophomores Denayu Theophane (SO/North West London, England), Andres Cervantes (SO/Brownsville, Texas) and Angel Valdes (SO/San Antonio, Texas); and freshmen Giovanni Cardenas (FR/McAllen, Texas), Estuardo Teran Jr. (FR/Brownsville, Texas), Guillermo Serrano (FR/Grand Prairie, Texas) and John Mendoza (FR/San Antonio, Texas).
Hurley talked about Theophane. "He is English-Jamaican, and he's very athletic. He's got great footwork and skills to match it. I expect him to be a good scoring presence for us, but also a good playmaker. We also have a very versatile player who can play a couple of various positions – Cardenas. He's good at controlling and dictating the rhythm of the game. Also, Teran is a very hard working player who works very well and plays well in the middle of the field. I feel that all of our new players will add depth to our team."
The Saints will play new RRAC member Texas A&M University – Texarkana on Aug. 26, and then continue with a few nonconference games through Sept. 29, when they host RRAC's University of the Southwest. The Saints will compete against the University of St. Thomas, which Hurley believes is their toughest opponent. "St. Thomas is always going to be a tough opponent; it's almost like they're our twin. We go back and forth with them, but it's always a tough game. Also Houston-Victoria has gotten better and better each year on the men's side. We lost to them in overtime on a free kick."
Other conference opponents are Jarvis Christian College, Texas College, Huston-Tillotson University, LSU-Alexandria and Wiley College.
Hurley concluded by welcoming the community to the Saints' games this year. "We look forward to seeing everyone come out to see us, and to support our efforts. We have eight home games, so there are a lot of opportunities to cheer our team on."
Our Lady of the Lake University is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2016-2017 as a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. The University began competing in the NAIA in men's soccer and volleyball in 2007. A year later, they added women's soccer, golf and tennis. In 2009, the Saints began competing in cross-country, softball and basketball. In 2014, OLLU added two more sports — baseball and track and field. There are now 13 intercollegiate athletic teams at OLLU. All athletic alumni and up to two family members will receive free admission to basketball and volleyball games throughout the season. All other home games are free and open to the public.