SAN ANTONIO (Aug. 12, 2018) – The 2018 campaign for men's soccer at Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) begins Aug. 17. Twenty-three returners and 16 newcomers make up the team this year, and seniors Jorge Cavazos (SR/McAllen, Texas) and Adrian Delgado (SR/Brownsville, Texas), as well as Assistant Coach Marcelo Chapa, are optimistic for the team.
Cavazos said, "We want to be able to get to nationals. It's been our goal for the last five years…and we want to be the team that puts us on the map."
Delgado cites the large group of seniors coming back this season as the catalyst that will take them to nationals. He commented, "We have such a large group of seniors coming back from last year. We lost the conference tournament by one goal, so everyone is very motivated to not only win conference but to go undefeated and try to go to nationals."
Chapa, an OLLU soccer alumnus, who was team captain for two years, and who received a bachelor's and master's degree from the university, said, "We were very successful last year. I think the guys, after having some trouble getting connected, figured things out once we got into our conference schedule. Unfortunately, we came out in second place; I think we should have finished on top, but we kind of slipped up in a couple of games. This year, we have to do a better job in following through with our goals."
The team, now in its 12th season, welcomes back Head Coach Shane Hurley at the helm. Hurley, the only coach the team has had since it began competing in 2007, added the interim athletic director hat this year.
In 2016, the team celebrated its 100th win and the Saints now sit at 113-67-16 overall and 55-12-7 in the Red River Athletic Conference (RRAC). They have won the regular season twice – in 2012 and 2016, and the tournament once – in 2012 – their first and only trip to nationals. The Saints have qualified for the postseason 10 consecutive times, missing out their first two years. They have never had a losing season.
Key roster losses
Three integral starters from last year's squad finished out their collegiate career, including A.J. Gonzalez, Roger Rizzi and Luis Sanchez.
Gonzalez, who plans to graduate with a degree in kinesiology this year, played four years for the Saints in 2011 and 2012 and again in 2016 and 2017. Last season, he was named to the All-Conference First Team and the conference All-Tournament Team as a defender. He tied single-game record for most goals after he scored four against Jarvis Christian on Sept. 28, 2017.
Rizzi played one season for the Saints and he earned conference Newcomer of the Year and All-Conference First Team honors. As a forward, he scored six goals and added five assists, while accumulating 28 shots, 16 on goal.
Sanchez played three seasons for the Saints and received his Bachelor of Science in kinesiology this past May. As a defender, he played in 45 matches. Sanchez is a three-time RRAC Scholar Athlete.
Cavazos, who is entering his second semester as an information systems and security graduate student, earned back-to-back All-Conference honors in 2016 and 2017, and last year, he was named to the conference's All-Tournament team. Cavazos is the all-time leader in saves for the Saints with 179 and in shutouts with 11. He also holds the single-season record for most saves with 94. Cavazos has also excelled in the classroom as a three-time RRAC Scholar Athlete and an NAIA Scholar Athlete.
Delgado was the first-ever men's soccer player to earn NAIA All-American honors, and he did it after a stellar 2017 season. He tied the all-time record for most goals with 14. He also earned All-Conference First-Team, as well as RRAC Offensive Player of the Year honors. In addition, Delgado excelled in the classroom, earning NAIA Scholar Athlete and RRAC Scholar Athlete recognition.
A 2017 addition, Genthon proved invaluable on the pitch last season as a defender. He played in all 18 games and was integral to the Saints' success last year. Other 2017 additions were Halpin, who also played in all 18 games as a defender, and Barraza, who started in 15 of 17 games he played. Also vital last season was Bieker, who played in 16 matches after playing in one in 2016 and two in 2015. As a midfielder, he recorded three assists and one goal for the Saints. Genthon, Halpin and Bieker added RRAC Scholar Athlete awards to their résumés.
Other starters returning this year include Giovanni Cardenas (JR/Edinburg, Texas) and Guillermo Serrano (JR/Grand Prairie, Texas). Cardenas is a two-time RRAC Scholar Athlete. Serrano scored the second-most goals in a game in 2017 with three against Texas A&M University – Texarkana, and he also received All-Conference and RRAC Scholar Athlete honors last season.
Other returners include seniors Matheus Campos (SR/Belo Horizonte, Brazil), Jesus Cortes (SR/El Paso, Texas), Jose Escareno (SR/Mission, Texas), Joel Gonzalez (SR/Harlingen, Texas), Noe Salinas (SR/New Braunfels, Texas) and Homero Trevino (SR/Rio Bravo, Mexico); juniors Alejandro Esparza (JR/Weslaco, Texas) and Estuardo Teran (JR/Brownsville, Texas); and sophomores Carlos Cabrera (SO/Mission, Texas) Jose Delgado (SO/San Antonio, Texas), Martin Garcia (SO/San Antonio, Texas), Austen Medellin (SO/San Antonio, Texas), Jose Pesina (SO/Hidalgo, Texas), Gabe Quinones (SO/San Antonio, Texas), Jose Alberto Ramos (SO/McAllen, Texas) and Miguel Sanchez (SO/San Antonio, Texas). Of these returners, Medellin, Pesina and Cabrera contributed the most with Medellin starting in seven of 11 games, Pesina starting in four of 13 games and Cabrera starting in two of 10 games.
Notable newcomers this year include Norberto Lira (FR/Monterrey, NL, Mexico), Logan Sanford (FR/San Antonio, Texas) and Juan Martin Chica (FR/Cali, Colombia). Lira, a native of Monterrey, N.L., Mexico, played at MacArthur High School in San Antonio. While there, he earned First-Team All-Region, Express-News All-Area Super Team, First-Team All-District and was his team's MVP.
Sanford played as a midfielder at San Antonio Marshall High School, where he was a four-year letterman. He earned Academic First-Team All-District, Athletic First-Team All-District and Academic All-State honors.
Chica, a standout from Colombia, was his team's top scorer and captain.
Other additions include freshmen Caleb Barrera (FR/San Antonio, Texas), Carlos Beltran (FR/San Antonio, Texas), Charbel Elbayeh (FR/San Antonio, Texas), Julio Gamboa (FR/San Antonio, Texas), Keelin Garrity (FR/Katy, Texas), Emiliano Limon (FR/McKinney, Texas), Nicholas Martinez (FR/San Antonio, Texas) and Tristan Pettit (FR/San Antonio, Texas); sophomore Ruben Mendez (SO/McAllen, Texas); and juniors Scott Couper (JR/Glasgow, Scotland) and Raul Posadas (JR/Laredo, Texas).
Joining Hurley and Chapa on the coaching staff is Zachery Brewer, who will guide the goalkeepers. Brewer played on the Saints soccer team in 2013 and 2014. He received both his bachelor's degree in 2015 and his master's degree in 2017 from OLLU.
The Saints will compete against 11 other RRAC teams, including 2017 champion University of Houston-Victoria, who edged out the Saints by half a game for the regular season title. The Jaguars defeated LSU-Alexandria in the conference tournament 2-0 to advance to nationals, where they lost in the opening round to the University of Mobile 4-1.
In addition to Victoria (7-1-2/11-3-2) and LSU-Alexandria (5-4-1/11-6-3), other conference opponents include Huston-Tillotson University (5-4-1/6-6-3), Jarvis Christian College (0-10/0-15), LSU-Shreveport (5-5/12-6), Paul Quinn College (4-12), University of the Southwest (6-3-2/9-5-3), University of St. Thomas (6-4-1/8-7-2), Texas A&M University – Texarkana (3-7/6-12), Texas College (2-7-1/6-9-1) and Wiley College (5-4-1/10-5-1).
The Saints' first match on Aug. 17 is a scrimmage at Laredo Community College in Laredo, Texas. Two home matches follow against Texas Lutheran University on Aug. 19 and Blinn College on Aug. 22. After a game in Austin, Texas, against Concordia University – Texas on Aug. 24, the Saints will welcome soccer alumni on Aug. 25 for a match beginning at 2 p.m. It's one game that Hurley always enjoys. With a big smile on his face, he said, "It's always a happy time when we see them. We get so busy and we have to concentrate on one team at a time, and year after year, those memories of particular teams fade. However, it's always fun to recall those special times we spent with each team. They've all made transformations, whether it be in jobs, having kids, getting married; it's always fun to catch up and see how they've progressed." After the alumni games, a special remembrance ceremony will be held for women's soccer alumna Hailey Garcia Reyes, who passed away earlier this year, and for men's soccer alumnus Nicholas Boyd-Garza, who passed away in 2016.
The team will travel for two nonconference games against Oklahoma City University on Sept. 1 and Texas Wesleyan University on Sept. 2. On Sept. 9, the men will host LeTourneau University, and after a trip to Plainview for a game against Wayland Baptist University on Sept. 12, the Saints will open their conference schedule on Sept. 22 against Huston-Tillotson University.
Four conference matches follow away from campus beginning with Jarvis Christian College on Sept. 27, Texas College on Sept. 29, Wiley College on Oct. 4 and Texas A&M University – Texarkana on Oct. 6. The Saints return home for four conference matchups beginning Oct. 11 against the University of the Southwest, Oct. 13 against Paul Quinn College, Oct. 18 against the University of St. Thomas and Oct. 20 versus the University of Houston-Victoria. After the women's soccer game against Victoria, seniors from both the women and men's teams will be recognized.
OLLU will play the last two matches of the season on Oct. 25 against LSU-Alexandria and Oct. 27 versus LSU-Shreveport.
The conference tournament first round will take place Nov. 2-3, with the No. 6 seed playing at the No. 3 seed home and the No. 4 seed playing at the No. 5 seed home. On Nov. 8, the winner of the first match will play the No. 1 seed and the winner of the second match will play the No. 2 seed. Nov. 9 will be the championship match. Texas A&M University – Texarkana will host the semifinals and finals of the tournament.
The Saints are welcoming a brand-new in-game "Voice of the Saints," Rudy Rubio, who is a student at the University of Texas at San Antonio. He will announce all home soccer, volleyball, basketball, softball and baseball games.
Michael Thompson, the livestreaming "Voice of the Saints," will return to call all home games that will broadcast on the OLLU Saints Network. There will be a $7.95 charge for livestreaming games, and packages will be available for same-day women and men's soccer matchups. More information on this will be available soon.
All home games are free and open to the public. The Saints Soccer Field is located on the west side of campus; enter through the gate at Commerce St. for immediate access to the field. A new addition to the field location is a building for restrooms for the convenience of all those in attendance.