2011 Men's Soccer Season Preview
Story by Thimal de Alwis
Thimal de Alwis is a senior on the soccer squad. He will graduate in June with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.
Coming off a season in which the squad beat the defending conference champion, this year can prove to be vital in determining the direction that Caltech soccer is heading. This year's squad must move forward from memories of the previous campaign. Grayson Chadwick earned first-team all-conference honors in addition to his stunning bicycle kick goal in a win over La Sierra (Video of Goal), in addition to a sweet victory against defending conference champions Pomona-Pitzer.
With the graduation of several key contributors, the Beavers must now turn to a new crop of stars in their pursuit of success. This means greater responsibility for the likes of juniors Vishnu Manoranjan and Hunter Sceats, who will be utilized in wide positions. The burden of goals will fall on last season's leading goal-scorer Kunmi Jeje, who netted twice, and fellow junior Mikhail Sushkov.
Versatile senior Kyle Martin should also see more minutes will provide experience to the defense as well as being a scoring threat on set pieces. Fellow senior Thimal de Alwis also returns to the Beavers' defense having missed out last season. The trio of players will be able to form a new-look back line.
Marcus Lucas returns as the stalwart in goal for the Beavers. The junior faced more shots than any other SCIAC goalie last season and just missed out on earning all-conference honors.
One of this year's co-captains, junior Brice Nzeukou, voices the sentiment that Caltech are overdue for some wins. "Our goals for this season are wins. We have been competitive with most teams since I was a freshman; however, the results haven't reflected our efforts."
Nzeukou also has high expectations for Caltech's crop of new players. "It looks like a promising [freshmen] class. The outlook is good, with many of them having prior high school and club soccer experience. We also have many rising sophomores and juniors joining the team."
The current roster is numbered at 35, so head coach Rolando Uribe will hardly be short of options to call up into his lineup.
Uribe, who has overseen the Beavers squad since 2002, seems to be as upbeat as ever about the upcoming season, regarding this year's squad as "the deepest pool of talented players."
These are words of high praise from a head coach that has seen the likes of SCIAC-recognized Tyler Volkoff and Chadwick in his teams of years past.
"Team goals are to be very competitive and win at least three or four conference games, and five total during the season," Uribe said.
The Beavers open the season on Sept. 3, at home against non-conference foe Bethesda Christian, with a conference opener coming against Occidental less than two weeks later on Sept. 14.