2012 Men's Soccer Season Preview
The team returns every player that scored a point last season and adds a deep freshman class to a strong returning group.
Eleventh year Head Coach Rolando Uribe said, "I think this season has a lot of potential, we will be returning everyone except for one starter. Last year we were close to winning a lot of conference games, and this year I think we will be able to finish the job." The Caltech men's soccer team returns all but one of the key contributors from last year's team that was able to shock Cal Lutheran 2-1 early in the season.
The team will miss Thimal de Alwis and his presence at right back, but returns Brice Nzeukou whose six career goals puts him near the top of the all-time Caltech goalscoring leaderboard.
Uribe continued, "I think this is the deepest team we have ever had. We don't just have a lot of players, but we are returning a lot of quality. Brice is our captain and leader on the field. He played center back last season, but we will be looking to play him at forward this season.".
Senior, Mitchel Arene also returns after leading the team in goals last season. He scored the game-winning goal in the team's win over Cal Lutheran and provides breakaway speed at forward for Caltech.
"We are looking to team Mitchel and Brice at forward. I think their speed, size, and power up front will give opposing teams a lot of trouble," said Uribe.
Last season, first-year Marec Serlin started 17 of the 19 games he played and tallied two assists, serving as a creator in the center of midfield.
The Beavers also return Wesley Swank and Juan Pablo Ocampo who split time at goalkeeper for Caltech. Ocampo made 39 saves early in the season, before moving to the field when Swank took over. Swank went on to make 99 saves in the 15 starts in n16 games which he played. Swank will start this season as the starting goalkeeper with Ocampo serving as his backup and primarily playing in the field.
"Last year was a breakout year for Wesley. He really came in and established himself as a starter. He came into the squad late, but made the role his own once he arrived."
Yishun Dong was second on the team in goals (2) and points (4) and will be spending time at forward along with Kunmi Jeje and Mikhail Sushkov. Caltech does not have a women's soccer team, so the men's team boasts a couple of women. Senior midfielder Sarah Wright became the first woman to score a goal in a men's soccer game in conference history when she scored during her freshman season. "All four players could provide a spark off the bench or as occasional starters."
The team also returns a strong defense that will be able to make up for the move of Nzeukou to forward and of de Alwis to graduation. "We are looking at moving Vishnu Manoranjan to right back after he has spent most of his career playing midfield," said Uribe.
Experience is going to play a huge part as the team will look to six or seven seniors in the starting lineup depending on how Uribe configures his lineup.
Thomas Kwok returns to the team after spending the last two seasons on a church retreat. He has past starting experience and is looking to return to the starting lineup. Despite all of the returning talent, three freshman have an opportunity to gain some playing time. Ritvik Mishra, Adam Ball, and Alec Sands could all see some time as the season progresses.
The team will have a tough opening schedule as they play eight games in the first 21 days of the season. Uribe said, "I will have to change my strategy a little bit. With the high concentration of games early in the season, we will be looking at utilizing our deep roster often, making sure everybody gets enough rest."
Look for Caltech to have one of their better seasons. Coach Uribe said, "The players have been through a lot, and out senior leadership is going to help us convert some of those close games into victories this year."