Siloam Springs, Ark. (August 21, 2008) - As the John Brown University men’s soccer team gears up for another season of competition, head coach Bob Gustavson knows one area his team needs to improve in from last year if they want a chance to seek post season success.
With the regional tournament being eliminated from the season setup, teams will now have to win their conference tournament in order to qualify for the national tournament. Therefore, more importance will be put on success in the conference play. To accomplish this, Gustavson said that his team basically needs to score more goals.
“We have to put a little more emphasis on scoring,” said Gustavson. “We just didn’t do a good job last year and that really put us behind the eight ball.”
As a team in 2007, John Brown scored only nine (9) goals during conference play compared to eighteen (18) goals by opponents.
“I don’t think we were that far off last year,” said Gustavson. “A lot of the games we lost were only by a goal. So we either have to play better defense or have more offensive output.”
The team finished 2007 with a record of 6-10 overall and 2-5 in Sooner Athletic Conference play. But with the return of several key players and a beefed up defense in 2008, Gustavson hopes to improve his team’s chances of reaching the national tournament.
Gustavson added that two key recruits to keep an eye on this year will be Camdenton, Mo. native Chris Byington and Antiguan defender Joel Thomas.
“Chris has come in and been scoring right away in practice, and for a freshman to come in have that impact has been a real plus for us,” said Gustavson. “Also Joel adds size to our defense, so look for him to have an impact in the back.”
Vying for the starting goalkeeper position are seniors Spencer Watson and Glen Goodner. Watson started his entire junior campaign allowing 27 goals, notching 64 saves, and recording one shutout. Goodner, on the other hand, is back to full strength after sitting out the entire 2007 season after rehabbing a knee injury suffered during the end of 2006 season.
“Glen and Spencer are working really hard for that number one spot,” said Gustavson. “The important thing is that those guys are pushing each other and that’s extremely positive.”
DEFENDER Making a return this fall is Sooner Athletic All-Conference defender senior Terry Andrew from St. John’s, Antigua. His supporting cast consists of Thomas, junior Nick Robbins, and freshman Hunter Bradford, the brother of former JBU all-conference defender Andrew Bradford.
“Nick played on the defense in the spring and will be able to use that experience on the outside back for us,” said Gustavson. “And Hunter is also a really good player and was able to join the team last spring which was his first semester in school. He’ll probably start as another outside back.”
Caleb Theimer returns in the midfield after a stellar performance scoring four (4) goals and two (2) assists as a freshman. His counterpart moving from the striker position is sophomore Gabriel Duarte of Porto Alegre, Brazil, who led the team in goals in 2007 with five (5). Both players, however, led the team in the point category with 10 points each on the season. Both also received all-conference honors.
On the wings, Gustavson added that we can expect to see good things from sophomore Tulsa native Jamal Bandeh and senior Antiguan Akeem Grant.
Helping the team achieve their goal of more scoring are sophomore forwards Adrian Jasso and Juan Iraola. As freshmen, Jasso led the team in shot attempts with 3.13 shots per game, while Iraola was the leading assist getter averaging .23 assists per game. Gustavson also reiterated that we can look for Byington to have an impact at this position. “We made a commitment to put Adrian Jasso up top with Juan Iraola,” said Gustavson. “But we also have Byington making some noise up front. So, we are pleased with what we have at this position.” Gustavson also mentioned that overall the roster is a little more solid, experienced and athletic than the previous two years, and he expects to have an exciting season.
“We got everybody that we wanted,” said Gustavson, “And we made ourselves stronger in a couple of positions.
As for the other teams in the conference, Gustavson stated that every game will be a battle.
“The SAC is just going to be ridiculous,” said Gustavson. “Every team is going to have to play hard, and anybody can win on any given day.”