2012 Season Outlook
In his five seasons as the head coach Jose Dominguez has built solid foundational principles and a competitive mindset for the men’s soccer program. With the groundwork in place, the 2012 soccer team can build from it and perpetuate momentum into the season.
“We continue to make improvements and to work to establish ourselves as a competitive team,” said Dominguez. “This season we are returning most of our players and have good leadership. We will use those strengths to move forward.”
The Trolls finished last season at 9-7-3 overall and in 8th place in the conference at 4-6. From that squad they return 17 players, including ten starters. The team adds four new players to round out their roster to 21. With the large number of veteran players the team is looking to use their experience to their benefit and to qualify for post-season competition.
A definite strength the team will depend on this season is their defense. The entire starting line-up from last season is back from a squad that gave up just 20 goals and had eight shut-outs a year ago. The majority of those returners are experienced players who provide leadership and confidence to the field. Seniors Mark Waller (Tucson, Arizona) and Tyler Van Zee (Pella, Iowa) are both four-year starters and provide stability. Van Zee, who also scored two goals last season, was second-team all-conference and NCCAA All-American honorable mention in 2011. Juniors Caleb Copeland (Arlington Heights, Illinois) and Dillon Cox (Tucson, Arizona) are the other solid factors in the defensive line.
Providing back-up in that position are junior Miguel Medina (Merrionette Park, Illinois) and sophomore Kaleb Dean (Caldwell, Idaho). In addition freshman Alex Medina (Merrionette Park, Illinois) adds new talent to the position and will provide positive minutes.
Behind the defense are goalkeepers Nate Vander Woude (Jenison, Michigan) and Rick Fawkes (Crestwood, Illinois), who both have experience. Vander Woude has been the starting keeper for the past two seasons and posted a 0.91 goal against average and six shut-outs in 2011. Fawkes was the back-up keeper last season and also played in the goal on the junior varsity team in the 2010 season.
While the defense provides proven experience, the offensive end of the field is not as defined. Last season 11 different players were in on the scoring action, and this year the scoring will continue to be diverse. The team does not lack in scoring ability, but it will come from a number of players.
The leading returning scorer, with seven goals and five assists, is senior midfielder Otniel Gross (Chicago, Illinois), who earned second-team all-conference and NCCAA All-American honorable mention honors a year ago. In addition to scoring Gross directed the midfield play. Midfielder junior Emmanuel Yanquaye (Mount Prospect, Illinois), who had two goals and one assist in 2021, will also provide attacking ability.
Adding to the offensive strike is a group of forwards. Junior Joey Bahena (Alsip, Illinois) had two goals and two assists last year and senior Josh Pollema (Rock Valley, Iowa) added two goals last year. Senior Noe Quirarte (Carson, California), who played in only one game last season due to injury, and sophomore Alex Tien (Orange City, Iowa), who played on the junior varsity last year, will also factor in. Giving the team depth and great potential is all-state freshman Jordi Rubio (Round Lake, Illinois), who will break into the starting line-up.
Along with Gross and Yanquaye in the midfield are experienced players, junior Marlon Rodriguez (San Jose, Costa Rica), a returning starter from last year, sophomore Caleb Steele (Tucson, Arizona), who scored three goals and had one assist a year ago, sophomore Jesus Arciga (Blue Island, Illinois) with two goals and an assist in 2011, and junior Joel Boender (Grandville, Michigan), who had a goal and an assist last year.
Joining the midfield is freshman Ben Tjoelker (Johnstown, Ohio), who will be strong contender.
The Trolls have an 18 game schedule that starts with a home contest on August 25 with against Arizona Christian University. They will compete in six non-conference games which includes a trip to northwest Iowa to play at Northwestern College and Dordt College. Conference competition starts on September 22 and consists of 11 games. The CCAC competition looks to be very strong and deep this season with a large number of teams vying for the top spot. The Trolls hope to be among the top tier teams and to fight with the best of the conference competition.