SAN ANTONIO (Aug. 18, 2021) – The Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) men's soccer program returns to normalcy for its 15th season starting this fall after a delayed 2020 season that was pushed to spring of 2021. Head Coach Arthur Salazar will enter his first year of managing both the men's team, while also head coaching the women's program for his ninth season.
Beginning the season
The Saints start the season with two scrimmages at home against Concordia University-Texas (3-1) on Aug. 21 and Texas Lutheran University (3-1-2) on Aug. 23. OLLU faces off with Schreiner University (4-1) in Kerrville, Texas, on Sept. 1 for the first regular-season match. They continue the road trip by traveling to Hattiesburg, Miss., to play No. 13-ranked William Carey University (0-1) on Sept. 10 and No. 18-ranked the University of Mobile in Mobile, Ala., the following day.
Prior to Red River Athletic Conference (RRAC) competition starting, the Saints visit nearby rivals NCAA D2 St. Mary's University (1-4) on Sept. 16. (Numbers after school indicate all-time records).
OLLU, picked fourth in the preseason conference poll, starts RRAC play at home on Sept. 23 against one of the tougher teams in the conference, LSU-Shreveport (5-4), which has been selected to finish second in the poll. Texas A&M University-Texarkana (7-0), picked sixth, travels to San Antonio two days later to face the Saints. The first road trip starts on Sept. 30 with a match against LSU-Alexandria (2-5-3), picked third, and RRAC newcomer Louisiana College, picked tied for eighth, on Oct. 2.
The Saints return home to battle the University of the Southwest (11-5), picked fifth, on Oct. 7 and Paul Quinn College (3-1), picked 12th, on Oct. 9. The squad travels to Tyler, Texas, to face Texas College (9-2-1), picked tied for 10th, on Oct. 14 and Jarvis Christian College (7-0), picked tied for 10th, in Hawkins, Texas, on Oct. 16. The last three matches of the season include a home match against the University of Houston-Victoria (7-7-2), picked first, on Oct. 21, a road test versus Huston-Tillotson University (8-8-1), picked seventh, on Oct. 23 and the season finale at home for the first-ever match against Texas A&M University-San Antonio, picked tied for eighth, on Oct 30.
Salazar previously worked with the men's team as an assistant coach from 2008-2012. "I'm excited to be back working directly with the men's team", Salazar commented. "I hope to help guide the men's team to a conference title, and I'm looking forward to the upcoming season." His assistant coach, Marcelo Chapa, played as a midfielder for the Saints from 2011-2014. Chapa enters his seventh season as the assistant coach. David Cavazos returns to the Saints as the goalkeeping coach after a stint in 2016 with the women's team.
The men's soccer program originated in 2007, and Salazar has had a lasting impact on the team ever since. "It's been really fun to see the evolution and support that we had and currently have. I genuinely cherish being part of this program since day one as a player and now as head coach of both programs."
The senior class includes Carlos Beltran (SR/San Antonio, Texas), Juan Martin Chica (SR/Cali, Colombia), Charbel Elbayeh (SR/San Antonio, Texas), Keelin Garrity (SR/West Hartford, Conn.), team captain Norberto Lira (SR/Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico), Mitchell Medrano (SR/Baytown, Texas), Jack Parker (SR/Norwich, England), Patrick Pye (SR/Norwich, England) and Pedro Tavarez (SR/Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico).
Beltran was named to the Red River Champions of Character Team last year. Lira was awarded Red River All-Tournament recognition after his performance in the postseason, as well as All-Conference First-Team honors. Pye gathered multiple awards, including Red River All-Conference Second-Team recognition, CoSIDA Academic All-America and All-District First Team honors.
The Saints welcome back 21 athletes for the 2021 season, including seniors. Orlando Medina (SO/Houston, Texas) returns as the only sophomore. Connor Bagley (JR/Norwich, Norfolk, U.K.), Joseph Baker (JR/Llantwit Major, Wales, U.K.), Miguel Barrera (JR/San Antonio, Texas), Randy Dominguez (JR/Katy, Texas), Christopher Marcus (JR/Helotes, Texas), Javier Pena (JR/San Antonio, Texas), Kevin Rios (JR/Houston, Texas), Oluwatimileyin Talabi (JR/Abeokuta, Nigeria), David Tellez (JR/Cali, Colombia), Samuel Villegas (JR/San Antonio, Texas) and Chris Zepeda (JR/Houston, Texas) account for the junior class. Talabi was named to the Red River All-Tournament Team and Red River All-Conference Second Team last season.
The Saints added 17 incoming freshmen for the 2021 season. Osman Alvarado (FR/San Antonio, Texas), David Aviles (FR/Austin, Texas), Andress Azpeytia (FR/Houston, Texas), Matthew Banda (FR/Helotes, Texas), Rafael Canales (FR/Los Fresos, Texas), Luis Castro (FR/San Antonio, Texas), Gerardo Ibarra (FR/League City, Texas), Alexander Jaramillo (FR/Houston, Texas), Alejandro Llamas (FR/San Antonio, Texas), Braulio Manriquez (FR/San Antonio, Texas), Ulysses Martinez (FR/San Antonio, Texas), Isaac Navarro (FR/San Antonio, Texas), Roberto Poncia (FR/Codevigo (PD), Italy), Said Salas (FR/El Paso, Texas), Thomas Saucedo (FR/Los Fresnos, Texas), Victor Villegas (FR/El Paso, Texas) and Christopher Vivar (FR/San Antonio, Texas) join the team. The group has seven San Antonio natives.
Sophomore Michael Huff (SO/San Antonio, Texas) joins the Saints as the lone transfer athlete. He previously played at Clemens High School in Schertz, Texas.
Soccer field renovations
The virtual scoreboard on the soccer field will be integrated into live games during the 2021 spring season. The newest additions to the grounds include a fencing enclosure, built-in speakers that are equipped with a full sound system and ADA compliant bleachers. "We have been fortunate over the past few years to make these much-needed changes to enhance the environment for both the players and the spectators," Salazar said. Alumnus Erica Robertson (2015-2018) and her brother Joshua Robertson donated the funds to renovate the soccer complex.
With the enclosed field, this year, plans are for the university to charge an admission fee: Adults 12-older, $5; 11-6 years, $2; free for 5-younger and OLLU students, faculty and staff. When both women and men play on the same day, one price will be collected. Most home matches will be live-streamed on the OLLU Saints Network for free.