2018-19 Season Outlook

In the third year under the direction of Coach Eric Salley, the men’s soccer program is finding its stride. They are fitting the pieces together, familiar with the system, and ready to make a difference.  With the group of returners to guide the team and the incoming talent to complement their play, the Trolls are looking to be in the mix of teams involved in the conference post-season play.

“I feel that this year things will come together,” said Salley. “We now have a core of players that know the expectations, understand the culture, and have connections with each other as well as with me. Our talent level continues to increase and we are becoming more cohesive as a team.”

A year ago the team ended with a 3-14-1 record and found only one conference win.  Seven of their losses were one goal games and the team believes they can turn those around to positive outcomes this year. From a year ago the Trolls return 17 varsity players as well as two athletes who played in the junior varsity program. Of those returners, there are 11 that have starting experience to give the team a more veteran look. New to the roster are three active newcomers.

“We have a strong group of returners that will guide us,” said Salley. “The large number of newcomers we had last season have gained experience which will make a difference this year. Our new players are solid and fit in well.  Overall we will have more depth, which we did not have in the past.”

The Trolls look to be strongest in the midfield where they have a large number of leaders and returners. Senior captain Kris Kirchhoff (Frankfort, Illinois) is a two-year starter who will direct the team. Joining him is senior Tyler Massa (New Lenox, Illinois), another starter from a year ago. He has a strong presence in the middle and also aids the offensive effort as he scored three goals a year ago.

Also coming back to the midfield is sophomore Alejandro Sotelo (Round Lake Beach, Illinois), who earned NCCAA North Central All-Region honors last year. He started in 15 games and was the second leading scorer with six goals and four assists. Giving depth to the position are senior Alan Diaz (Wonder Lake, Illinois), senior Evan Witmer (Auburn, Indiana), sophomore Stuart VerVelde (Cedar Grove, Wisconsin), who played on the junior varsity a year ago, and freshman Andres Garcia (Manhattan, Illinois).

The defensive line also has experience with a number of returners. Sophomore Wesley Trueblood (Salem, Indiana) was a starter in the midfield last season, but will help the defensive line this year.  A year ago he earned NCCAA North Central All-Region honors. Sophomore Ben Boers (Allendale, Michigan) started last season and logged the most minutes of anyone on the team. He provides stability and consistent play to the back line.  Davi Simoes (Sao Paulo, Brazil), a junior, will take a place in the defensive after playing in the midfield in the 2017 season. Sophomore Andrew Heun (Hudsonville, Michigan) had 12 starts last year and brings that experience with him into this season. Also in the mix is senior Carlos Colotl (Chicago, Illinois), who was new to the team last year.

New to the defense and factoring into the line-up is Sean McLaughlin (Tinley Park, Illinois), a junior transfer from Moraine Valley Community College.  He brings addition experience as well a strong foot.

In the goal for the Trolls will be sophomore Mathis Muller (Duren, Germany), who was the starter a year ago. His year of experience along with the number of returners to the defense will make a difference to last year’s 2.81 goal against average. Overall the defense will focus on producing more shut-outs and limiting the number of goals scored by their opponents. Backing Muller up in the goal is freshman Mike McIntyre (Oak Lawn, Illinois), who will also be a member of Trinity’s baseball team.  

The Trolls look to increase their attacking presence and will have a large group to call upon. Junior Gabriel Soler (Sao Paulo, Brazil) was a starter last year and scored one goal and has two assists. Fekadu Timmermans (Grand Rapids, Michigan) is a sophomore who had 13 starts last year and ranked third on the team in points with three goals and two assists. Justin Taylor (Tinley Park, Illinois) was also a starter as a rookie, but in the defensive line. This year he will move to an attacking role, a position he played in high school.

Providing depth in the forward position are juniors Tate Rozeveld (Jenison, Michigan) and Case Van Wingerden (Wyoming, Michigan) and sophomores Brevin DeBoer (Hudsonville, Michigan) and Zach DeKock (Byron Center, Michigan). In addition to varsity experience these athletes also were on the field in junior varsity contests last year.

The Trolls have 17 games on their schedule of which 11 are conference contests. The schedule is very road heavy with 11 away games and only six home contests. The season opens on August 21 at Taylor University and the team is first at home on August 25 against Siena Heights University. The early season schedule also includes three games in Iowa, of which two are played at Dordt College and Northwestern College. The team begins their conference schedule on September 19 in a home contest with Cardinal Stritch University, one of the top teams in the CCAC. The other top conference schools will be Olivet Nazarene University, Roosevelt University, and the University of St. Francis.