Golden Eagles Soccer Team Confident as Season Begins

Siloam Springs, Ark (August 21, 2001) — With the start of another soccer season, the John Brown University Golden Eagles are poised to once again challenge for the top spot in the Sooner Athletic Conference and a place among the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletes elite.

Head Coach Bob Gustavson, last season's NAIA Region VI Coach of the Year, likes the team's chances, saying that his goal for the team is to win the SAC.

"It is all a matter of rising up to the challenge and beating the teams we have to beat," he said.

The most obvious reason for Gustavson's optimism is the return of senior striker Leo Peirano. Peirano, who was named to the NAIA All-America first team, not only led JBU in scoring but set the university's single season scoring record with 32 goals.

The success that Peirano has had will not go unnoticed, Gustavson said. Double and triple teams will be the norm. This puts even more pressure on the supporting cast to perform consistently and help out with the goal scoring.

The make-up of the team is quite different than last season's with nine members not returning, including NAIA All-American Honorable Mentions Jeremy Thomas and Michael Umelo.

Gustavson filled the large void with eight recruits that he said will make an immediate impact on the team. Freshman Felipe Gonzalez is one such recruit. Billed by the coaches as a player in the mold of Peirano, Gonzalez it is hoped will help Peirano carry the scoring load.

Of the 21 members on the team only six are classified as juniors or seniors. Despite the team's overall inexperience, Gustavson is confident in JBU's ability to compete with other teams in the conference.

The Golden Eagles have a gauntlet of a schedule that includes games with national powerhouses Wheaton College, Harris-Stowe State College and Columbia College as well as conference heavyweights St. Gregory's University and Oklahoma City University.

JBU will hit the ground running with the first home game of the season taking place Saturday, Sept. 1 against conference foe Oklahoma City University at 2 p.m.

John Brown University is a private university with an enrollment of more than 1,500 students from 46 states and 30 countries. JBU is a member of the Arkansas Independent Colleges and Universities and the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. JBU competes in the Sooner Athletic Conference (SAC), one of three conferences within the NAIA's Region VI.