2017-18 Season Outlook

A year ago Coach Eric Salley took over the men’s soccer program and the team made a significant improvement in their overall record. The 2017 team hopes to continue in that trend and put together another solid year as they develop under Salley’s leadership.

“We started the process of building a foundation last year and establishing an environment of relentless effort,” said Coach Salley. “We will continue to foster that philosophy and move forward with our mantra of Stronger Together.”

A year ago the Trolls finished at 8-9-1 overall, which was the most wins in a season in the past five years. The team returns 13 players from that squad, including a significant number that have starting experience.  To help propel the program forward, Salley has added a large number of new players and brought a roster of 29 players into training camp. The incoming athletes will challenge the returning players and also help build the talent for the future.  

“We want to continue to provide an atmosphere where players can develop and the program can become more competitive,” commented Salley. “The incoming class is a talented group, but we may experience some growing pains this year as we will still be young and inexperienced.”

With the majority of the team as new players, the Trolls will be inexperienced in certain positions on the field and will have some key gaps to fill. From a year ago, the team lost their leading scorer and the majority of their back line. They will need to rebuild those positions and have players immediately step into prominent roles.

In the attacking line, the Trolls will have to look for scoring from different sources this year after graduating Mauricio Salgado, who accounted for 22 of the team’s 35 goals from a year ago. Taking a key role in that scoring position will be senior Getenet Timmermans (Grand Rapids, Michigan), who started last season and scored three goals and had three assists. He will carry a big responsibility for the offensive production. Sophomore Gabriel Soler (Sao Paolo, Brazil), who played midfield and forward a year ago, will move into the forward position to help out with the attack. A year ago he had one goal and two assists. Other experienced players in that position are seniors Abe Wierda (Zeeland, Michigan), who had two goals and two assists last year, and Jared Mulder (Delavan, Michigan), who missed last year for medical reasons.

The front line has added a number of new players who will help out and provide more options for the team. Fekadu Timmermans (Grand Rapids, Michigan), a brother to Getenet, can provide scoring power. Freshman Alejandro Sotelo (Round Lake Beach, Illinois) has the skill and speed to create opportunities in the attack and will work his way into the starting line-up. In addition junior Jake Kempster (Grand Haven, Michigan), who has been with the soccer program on the junior varsity team, and sophomore transfer Tate Rozeveld (Jenison, Michigan), and freshman Zach DeKock (Byron Center, Michigan) all add depth to the position.

In the transitional midfield section of the field the team has a few returners who will provide leadership.  Sophomore Davi Simoes (Sao Paolo, Brazil) was a starter in his rookie season and will continue to develop into a major contributor.  Senior Tyler VanElst (Grandville, Michigan) and junior Jake DeRuiter (Pella, Iowa) also provide experience as they have both been in the starting line-up in the past. In addition junior Evan Witmer (Auburn, Indiana), who was on the team in the 2015 season, joins the midfielders.

The midfield will be impacted by a couple of newcomers. Junior Tyler Massa (New Lenox, Illinois) brings collegiate experience as he played at Eastern Illinois University, a NCAA Division I program, for two seasons. Freshman Wesley Trueblood (Salem, Indiana) can also be a contributor in the starting line-up.

The defensive line will have a new look this season as the team graduated their defenders from a year ago. Moving to the defense from a starting midfield position will junior Kris Kirchhoff (Frankfort, Illinois). He will provide stability and leadership. Other returning defenders are senior Jake Heyboer (Jenison, Michigan), sophomore Luke Dykstra (Tulare, California), and sophomore Daniel Walters (Zeeland, Michigan).

The majority of the defensive positions will be occupied by an incoming group of players that includes five freshmen and two transfers.  Freshmen Andrew Heun (Hudsonville, Michigan), Ben Boers (Allendale, Michigan), and Justin Taylor (Tinley Park, Illinois) are strong contenders for a starting position. Creating depth is junior Alan Diaz (Wonder Lake, Illinois), who played two seasons at McHenry College, and junior Carlos Colotl (Chicago, Illinois), who played two years at Kennedy King College, and freshmen Dylan Sollie (Arlington Heights, Illinois) and Brevin DeBoer (Hudsonville, Michigan).

The inexperience of the defensive extends to the goal, where the team graduated their starting goalkeeper from a year ago. However the team will not be without options. Freshmen Mathis Muller (Duren, Germany) has the talent to come in and make a difference as he develops into a top-quality keeper.  In addition junior Rob Oostindie (Grand Rapids, Michigan) and sophomore Tyler Schutt (Crown Point, Indiana) have both been in the soccer program and have played on the junior varsity squads.

The Trolls have an 18 game schedule that opens on the road on August 19 at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. The team opens at home on August 22 against Clarke University and then will host an invitational in which they will face Spring Arbor University and Taylor University. Conference play for the team begins on September 19 and extends through the end of October. Of the 11 conference games, the team will host seven of them, including home games every Saturday in October. The conference tournament begins on November 4.