SEASON OPENERS: The Pacific Lutheran University Lutes start their 2012 men's soccer journey with two matches at the Twin Cities Soccer Kickoff Classic in St. Paul, Minn., facing Hamline University on Aug. 31 and Augsburg College on Sept. 1.
KICKOFF CLASSIC: Hamline University, under the direction of first-year head coach Alex Morawiecki, looks to get a feel for where it stands against national competition with the addition of several new players to the roster. Augsburg College will have already seen the field three times before their faceoff with the Lutes in scrimmages and tournament matches.
ST. OLAF NEXT: Following their trip to the Twin Cities, the Lutes will head south to Northfield, Minn., where they will match up with familiar preseason rival St. Olaf. The Lutes seek to even the score with a win over the St. Olaf Lions after falling two years ago at home in a 2-1 double-overtime loss.
ONE MORE ROAD TRIP BEFORE NWC PLAY: Pacific Lutheran will then take its talents to Spokane where it will take the pitch in two matches in the Whitworth Soccer Classic. The Lutes' first opponent is scheduled to be Wheaton College on Sept. 7, followed the next day by a match against Corban University.
OPENING CONFERENCE PLAY: Conference action begins on September 15 when the Lutes take on the George Fox University Bruins in Newberg, Oregon. The Lutes have posted an all time record of 28-9-1 (.750) against the Bruins.
NATIONAL SPOTLIGHT: Entering the season ranked No. 25 in the NSCAA/Continental Tire DIII Men's Soccer National Preseason poll, the Lutes are determined to not only show the Northwest Conference, but the nation, what they capable of doing.
With the 2011 season bringing much success to the Pacific Lutheran University men's soccer program, this year's focus will be on defending the coveted Northwest Conference title. The Lutes battled rain and shine, capturing the conference title and making a trip to the national tournament where they fell to the offensive powerhouse, University of Redlands, 4-1.
The team has lost a significant portion of its offensive skill, including Second Team All-American forward Spencer Augustin (19 goals, 2.42 points per game), three-time All-Northwest Conference forward Chad Kearns (13 goals, 7 assists), and three-time All-Northwest Conference midfielder Surafel Wodajo who concluded the season second in the NCAA Division III in assists per game (.84) and third in total assists (16). The so called "three-headed offensive monster," also finished the season as the top three point earners in the Northwest Conference last season (Augustin-46; Kearns-33; Wodajo-24). Despite the loss of their former leadership, the Lutes look strong and are picked to defend their Northwest Conference title, receiving five of eight first-place votes in a preseason coaches' poll.
The current season will test the Lutes on and off the field but it is nothing the key returners do not know how to handle. Joe Rayburn (Portland, Ore / Sunset) will be returning to his position between the pipes, last year posting a record of 15-4-0, along with 5 shutouts while earning a Second Team All-Northwest Conference membership. Playing a key role as one of two center backs will be Kevin Wein (Lake Tapps, Wash. / Auburn Riverside). As a freshman, Wein made an immediate impact scoring 2 goals and achieving an Honorable Mention All- Northwest Conference selection. Alongside Wein is junior Jeff Piquadio (Seattle, Wash. / Kennedy Catholic) and senior veteran Paul Bascole (Renton, Wash. / Kentridge) who both are a part of the Lutes' solid backfield wall. The midfield will be no stranger to the familiar faces of Shane Gutierrez (Lake Tapps, Wash. / Auburn Riverside), Giancarlo Santoro (Sammamish, Wash. / Skyline), Joe Olenginski (Auburn, Wash. / Auburn Adventist Academy) and Brenden Cohen (Tacoma, Wash. / Stadium). Gutierrez, a senior leader of the Lutes, had a successful 2011 season earning a Second Team All-Northwest Conference spot while recording 2 assists. Santoro added to the Lutes' offensive arsenal last year, recording 1 goal and 2 assists making him apart of the Honorable Mention All-Northwest Conference team. Olenginski secured control of the midfield for much of the 2011 season earning him a spot next to his teammate on the Honorable Mention All-Northwest Conference team. Cohen brings experience and knowledge to the roster, starting in six matches in 2011 and playing in a total of 19. The jerseys of senior, Lucas McCallum (Bursh Prairie, Wash. / Columbia River) and junior, Derek Johnson (Tacoma, Wash. / Franklin Pierce) are sure to be seen up front for the Lutes. McCallum's leg earned him a Second Team All-Northwest Conference selection after posting 7 goals. Johnson proved he was an offensive weapon playing in 14 matches in 2011 while scoring three goals and tallying five assists.
While the team's veterans continue to put in hours of work in preparation for the season, the strong class of newcomers is hungry to make their presence known. Among them is sophomore defender Taylor Jackson (Auburn, Wash. / Auburn), a transfer from Gonzaga University who started 5 matches for the Bulldogs while appearing in a total of 12. Freshman Emmanuel Amarh (Sarpsbog, Norway / Greaaker Vgs), will see some time up front and has the tools and potential to help fill the scoring void left by Augustin, Kearns and Wodajo. Junior Paul Brumm (Bremerton, Wash. / Olympic), freshman Sean Rigney (Federal Way, Wash. / Federal Way) and freshman Jordan Downing (Hobart, Wash. / Tahoma) are looking to insert some offensive talent into the mix for the Lutes. Tyler Bennett (Redmond, Wash. / Redmond) could make a difference in the backfield as another long year is about to take place. Finishing up the cast of newcomers is Mike Arguelo (SeaTac, Wash. / Mount Rainier), a top candidate to back up staring goalkeeper, Joe Rayburn.
By Zack Cramer, Student Assistant