Siloam Springs, Ark. (August 23, 2011) - The Golden Eagles are gearing up to vie for the SAC crown in 2011, after a fourth place finish and disappointing 1-0 overtime loss in the conference semis last season.
“We don’t want to take a step backwards; we want to keep moving forward and reach our goal of getting to the national tournament,” said head men’s soccer coach John Miglarese. “That’s what we set in preseason, and we’re trying to play good soccer and have our boys compete day in and day out.”
The JBU men had two successful matches during the preseason, which included a 1-0 victory over NCAA Division II opponent Drury (Mo.) and a 2-0 shutout over Ozarks (Ark.) at home last Saturday.
The roster of 28 is comprised of 15 lettermen and 13 incoming players, who are led by senior defender Joel Thomas of Antigua. Thomas was named 2nd Team All-SAC as sophomore, and looks to have a solid senior campaign after spending the summer training with the Antigua U-23 national team.
Senior Randell Pyle and junior David Castagne make up the other defender positions. But there is still a tight race among several returning players and incoming players for the remaining defender position.
“There is a ton of competition,” added Miglarese. “We’ve got some strong returners but we’ve got a lot of strong new players as well. So we’re still trying to figure it all out.”
Another player to keep an eye on this year is sophomore midfielder Luke Theimer. Theimer, who was also voted as a team captain along with Thomas, Castagne, and senior Chris Byington, scored both goals in JBU’s shutout win over Ozarks.
“For the guys to vote him as a captain as a sophomore, says a lot about what the guys think about him,” said Miglarese. “He had a great freshman year as a holding midfielder, but this year, we’ve pushed him up a little bit and given him a little bit more freedom to attack.”
With the SAC placing JBU at fifth in the preseason coaches’ poll behind Science and Arts of Okla., Oklahoma Baptist, Oklahoma City, and Rogers State (Okla.), Miglarese feels that the poll probably isn’t too far off based on how the teams finished last season.
“Last year, we were first or second for most of the season up until the last few games when we dropped to fourth,” added Miglarese. “But polls are polls – in our conference, the number nine can beat the number one on any given day.”
The Golden Eagles kick off the 2011 season on Saturday, August 27 when they travel to take on Benedictine (Kan.), who was ranked as high as No. 6 in the country last season. The team then travels to the Jackson, Tenn. to compete in the Union University Tournament where they’ll take on National Tournament runner-ups Notre Dame (Ohio) on Sept. 2.
The first home matches of the year take place on Friday, Sept. 9-10 when JBU hosts the 2011 Quality Inn Fall Classic. After a trip to Friends (Kan.) on Sept. 17, the team returns home for two final non-conference tune-ups on Sept. 20 and 24 before beginning SAC action against Lubbock Christian (Texas) on Sept. 29.
Click here to view complete preseason interview with Coach Miglarese.