A strong group of returning players will buoy Caltech's effort on the pitch in 2014.
The Beavers return all but one starter from last season as the squad looks to climb in the SCIAC standings. All told the program brings back three players who started all 18 games and seven other players that started at least 10 games.
"This team has the ability to be a special group. If everything comes together we could put together one of the more successful seasons in recent memory," said 14th year head coach Rolo Uribe. "We are striving to get better every day and with the leadership coming back, I'm optimistic on our chances of being competitive on a regular basis."
Leading the charge for the returning players is tri-captain Marec Serlin. The senior has started all but three games since first stepping foot on campus. In 2013 he recorded a team best six points (2 goals, 2 assists).
Theo Wilkening and Adam Ball will also serve as captains in 2014. Wilkening returns to the team after a leadership and service training program with NextGen Academy. The athletic midfielder played in all 19 games two years ago and will seamlessly return to that spot this year. Ball played in all 18 games last season and has missed just three games during his first two seasons with the Beavers.
"A lot will be asked of our three captains but I think they are up to the challenge," Uribe said. "They will set the tone for every practice and game."
Evren Gokcen started all 18 games as a first-year in 2013 and is expected to provide a major boost to the Beavers front line efforts. Jared Reed, Pedro Ojeda and Kevin Gao also return for their sophomore season and will be ready for the challenges thrown their way.
"Our class of current sophomores had a big learning curve last season but that's going to benefit us a great deal in 2014. They have worked hard during the off season and they are ready to up their game even more," Uribe said.
For the second straight season J.D. Feist will man the duties in front of the net. The sophomore started 16 of the 18 games where he made a league leading 147 saves.
"J.D. is going to play a huge role for the continued upward trajectory of our program. He is one of the most technically sound goalkeepers I've ever coached and I'm excited to see how he progresses," Uribe said.
Altogether the Beavers will suit up a team with more familiarity of the college game since the turn of the millennium. Even with that experience, a hungry group of newcomers will push for playing time.
"In addition to the experience we have, there are five first-year players who have committed to the program. While they will have a learning curve as they adapt to the college game, they will give us a boost," Uribe said.
The season kicks off with a non-conference game on Aug. 31 against Hope International. The SCIAC portion of the slate begins on Sept. 10 with a home contest against Cal Lutheran.