SAN ANTONIO (Aug. 15, 2019) – The 13th season for Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) men's soccer kicked off Aug. 15 with a scrimmage against Laredo Community College. Fifteen returners and 18 newcomers make up the team this year.
The team welcomes back Head Coach Shane Hurley, the only coach the team has had since it began competing in 2007. Regarding 2018, Hurley said, "We had a pretty solid start at the beginning of last year, but then we sustained some injuries, and our performance became inconsistent at times. Once we got into the middle of the season, we started having difficulties turning some of the final plays into quality ones."
Although the men concluded last season with an overall 7-8-2 record and 4-6 overall, they made it to the first round of the conference tournament, where they lost 1-2 to the University of Houston-Victoria. The Saints have qualified for the Red River Athletic Conference (RRAC) postseason nine out of 13 seasons, which included a trip to the NAIA National Championship Tournament in 2012 after capturing both the conference and tournament titles. In addition, the Saints were the regular-season champions in 2016.
Key roster losses
Integral starters from last year's squad finished out their collegiate career, including Jose Barraza, Adam Bieker, Jorge Cavazos, Jesus Cortes, Adrian Delgado and Nick Genthon
Cavazos, who plans to graduate with a master's degree in Information Systems and Security in December, played four years for the Saints from 2015-2018. Cavazos twice earned All-Conference awards and one All-Tournament award. Last season, he was selected as a CoSIDA Academic All-American and an NAIA Scholar-Athlete. He also earned RRAC Scholar-Athlete recognition all four years. Cavazos holds the record for saves with 254 and for shutouts with 14. He had the most saves in a season with 94. In 2019, Cavazos was named the OLLU Big Blue Top Saint – the university's top male athlete for the year.
Delgado also played for the Saints for four years. He earned his bachelor's degree in accounting in May 2019. He is the first and only men's soccer player to earn NAIA All-American honors, and he received All-Conference as well as RRAC Offensive Player of the Year honors. In addition, he received NAIA Scholar-Athlete and RRAC Scholar-Athlete awards.
Defenders Genthon and Barraza played for the Saints in 2017 and 2018. Bieker played four years. Last season Bieker and Barraza were selected to the All-Conference team and Bieker earned three RRAC Scholar-Athlete awards. Cortes joined the team in 2017, but he sat out the season and played 14 games in 2018 when he led the team in goals with eight and in shots on goal with 20.
Others lost were: Matheus Campos (2017-2018), Jose Escareno (2017-2018), Joel Gonzalez (2017-2018), Noe Salinas (2017-2018) and Homero Trevino (2015-2016, 2018). James Halpin, who joined the Saints in 2017 and played in all 18 games, was injured and unable to play in 2018. While here, he earned NAIA Scholar-Athlete and RRAC Scholar- Athlete recognition.
Returning starters include seniors Giovanni Cardenas (SR/McAllen, Texas) and Guillermo Serrano (SR/Grand Prairie, Texas); juniors Scott Couper (JR/Glasgow, Scotland), Carlos Cabrera (JR/Mission, Texas) and Jose Delgado (JR/San Antonio, Texas); and sophomore Juan Martin Chica (SO/Cali, Colombia).
Seniors Cardenas and Serrano were both conference scholar athletes. Cardenas' three-year career stats include 47 games, three assists, 20 shots and 10 shots on goal. Serrano played in 34 games, and his three-year career stats include 34 games, five goals, 40 shots and 26 shots on goal.
Couper and Delgado joined the team last season, while the other junior Cabrera has been with team since 2017. Sophomore Chica played in 14 games in 2018 and had two goals and four assists, with 25 shots, 10 on goal.
Other returners include sophomores Caleb Barrera (SO/San Antonio, Texas), Carlos Beltran (SO/San Antonio, Texas), Charbel Elbayeh (SO/San Antonio, Texas), Keelin Garrity (SO/Katy, Texas) and Norberto Lira (SO/San Antonio, Texas); juniors Ruben Mendez (JR/McAllen, Texas) and Miguel Sanchez (JR/San Antonio, Texas); and senior Raul Posadas (SR/Laredo, Texas).
Hurley expects his returners to play key roles on the team this year. "Most notably, Norberto Lira had a great start of the season and then suffered an injury that kept him off the team for the remaining games. This year I expect him to have a tremendous year after demonstrating his abilities to dictate the game and move the ball.
"We have a solid goalkeeper returning after he backed up Cavazos last year. Keelin Garrity will be key to the team."
Newcomers include freshmen Connor Bagley (FR/Norwich, Norfolk, U.K.), Joseph Baker (FR/Llantwit Major, Wales, U.K.), Miguel Barrera (FR/San Antonio, Texas), Randy Dominguez (FR/Katy, Texas), Andrew Faz (FR/Dallas, Texas), Sergio Gonzalez (FR/Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico), Christopher Marcus (FR/Helotes, Texas), Kevin Rios (FR/Houston, Texas), David Tellez (FR/Del Rio, Texas), Samuel Villegas (FR/San Antonio, Texas) and Christopher Zepeda (FR/Houston, Texas); sophomores Jack Parker (SO/Norwich, Norfolk, U.K.), Patrick Pye (SO/Norwich, Norfolk, U.K.) and Pedro Tavarez (SO/Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico); and juniors Bernard Alvarenga (JR/Vitoria, Espirito Santo, Brazil), Luan Balesteri (JR/Erechim, Rio Grande do Sol, Brazil), Gustavo Borba (JR/Blumenau, Santa Catarina, Brazil) and Mitchell Medrano (JR/Baytown, Texas).
"We have some key juniors coming in, who have junior college experience, and we feel like they should be able to step on the field and be impactful for us," Hurley commented. "Everyone, returners and newcomers, will need to come in to the preseason with the goal of gelling with each other, developing the proper chemistry and applying the team tactics we will try to instill in them. I really feel that this incoming class is going to give us some much-needed depth."
The Saints will compete against nine other RRAC teams, including 2018 regular season co-champions LSU-Shreveport and LSU-Alexandria, who was the tournament champion.
In addition to LSU-Shreveport (15-5/10-1) and LSU-Alexandria (17-4/10-1), other conference opponents are the University of Houston-Victoria (11-3-1/9-1-1), the University of the Southwest (8-8-1/7-3-1), Paul Quinn College (9-8-1/6-5), Texas College (4-10-3/5-5/12-6), Huston-Tillotson University (3-8-2/2-7-2), Texas A&M University – Texarkana (1-13-1/1-9-1) and Jarvis Christian College (1-16-1/0-11).
Longtime RRAC member University of St. Thomas left the NAIA for the NCAA D3, while Wiley College decided not to field soccer teams this year.
"We can't take any games for granted in the conference," Hurley said. "Historically, there have been teams that are always very tough – UHV, LSUA, LSUS – those are always tightly contested games for us. But all the teams are capable of coming out and beating us."
The Saints will have two scrimmages, two exhibitions and 16 regular-season contests. They will launch their 13th season with a scrimmage against NJCAA Laredo Community College on Aug. 15, followed by another scrimmage on Aug. 17. The Saturday match will be against alumni at 2 p.m.
Hurley said, "This season, Saints fans will have the opportunity to cheer our guys on at our home field. The level of competition for this upcoming season matches that of previous seasons. We look forward to competing against NJCAA, NCAA and NAIA programs to prepare us for our regular season and postseason goals."
The men will be on the road for a scrimmage against NCAA D3 Texas Lutheran University in Seguin, Texas, on Aug. 22, and an exhibition against NCAA D3 LeTourneau University in Longview, Texas, on Aug. 24. The Saints return home Aug. 26 for their final exhibition against NCAA D3 Schreiner University at 4 p.m.
Their first regular-season match takes place Aug. 30 against Southwestern Christian University (OLLU 0-0 SCU). The Saints will play the Eagles at noon. NCAA D2 St. Mary's University (1-2) will come to OLLU for a matchup on Aug. 31 at 2 p.m. The Saints will continue their homestand Sept. 2, 4 and 9 against Oklahoma City University (2-2-2) at 2:30 p.m., St. Thomas (5-9-1) at 5 p.m. and Wayland Baptist University (1-4) at 2 p.m.
On Sept. 12, the men will travel to north San Antonio for a game against NCDD D1 University of the Incarnate Word (0-2) at 7 p.m. Two days later, they will travel to Belton, Texas, for a game against the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (1-0).
The men begin their conference schedule at home Sept. 26 against Texas A&M University – Texarkana (3-0), followed by Sept. 28 against Paul Quinn College (3-0). Both games are at 3:30 p.m.
The Saints will head out for a four-game road stint beginning Oct. 3 with a game in Hawkins, Texas, against Jarvis Christian College (5-0). They will travel to Tyler, Texas, Oct. 5 to face Texas College (8-2-1). The Saints will head up I-35 to take on Huston-Tillotson University (7-8-1) on Oct. 10 and the road stint will wrap up with a game in Hobbs, N.M., against the University of the Southwest (10-5) Oct. 12.
On Oct. 17, the Saints will host LSU-Alexandria (2-5-1) at 3:30 p.m., and the final home game of the season will take place Oct. 19 against LSU-Shreveport (3-2) at 2:30 p.m. The final conference game of the 2019 season will be on Oct. 26 in Victoria, Texas, against the University of Houston-Victoria (7-5-2).
The conference postseason will begin Nov. 2 with opening rounds taking place at campus sites. The sixth seed will play at the third seed's home field, while the fifth seed will play at the home field of the fourth seed. The first and second seed teams will have a bye. Nov. 7-8 will be the semifinals and championship match hosted by Texas A&M University – Texarkana.
The conference tournament champion will receive an automatic bid to the 60th Annual Men's Soccer National Championship Opening Round at campus sites. Winners advance to the tournament site at the OC Great Park Soccer Stadium in Irvine, Calif.
Saints fans who would like to stay up-to-date with the men's soccer team should follow the team on social media and utilize #OLLUSoccer. Additionally, most home games will be live-streamed for free, and all will feature live stats.
Marcelo Chapa returns as to Hurley's coaching staff. He has been assistant coach for four years after playing four years for the Saints as team captain. He received his undergraduate degree in 2015 and graduate degree in 2017 – both from OLLU. A new addition is Jorge Cavazos, who joins the coaching staff as a graduate assistant. Cavazos also played with the Saints for four years, and he received his undergraduate degree in 2017 and will receive his master's degree in Information Systems and Security in December 2019.
The Saints are welcoming the "Voice of the Saints," John Paul, who is an educator with the North Side Independent School District. He will announce all home soccer, volleyball, basketball, softball and baseball games.
Michael Thompson, the live streaming "Voice of the Saints," will call all home games that will broadcast on the OLLU Saints Network for free. The games will also be broadcasted on KSAT.com.
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.