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TMC men's and women's soccer: Good starts on soccer field

Mustangs out for more success

Posted: September 26, 2010 10:18 p.m.
Updated: September 27, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Forward Emily Bruton leads The Master’s College’s women’s soccer team with seven goals this season.

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It’s common for talent to ebb and flow at the college level as programs battle for recruits.

That doesn’t mean The Master’s College men’s and women’s soccer teams are planning on lowering their expectations any time soon.

And so far this season, it shows.

One game into Golden State Athletic Conference play, the women are ranked No. 15 in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and first in the National Christian College Athletic Association, while the men are just outside the NAIA top 25 and second in the NCCAA.

Both will try to repeat last season’s success, which included an NCCAA title for the women and an NAIA runner-up finish for the men.

“I think when you have something bigger than just winning in mind, the winning and losing takes care of itself,” said women’s head coach Curtis Lewis. “It frees the girls up to not be shackled by their fear. They are loose. And same with the guys. I think success breeds success. I think both teams have created an environment of winning. When our teams step on the field, they expect to win. When I first got here, we hoped to win.”

However, a seamless transition into 2010 was no guarantee for the men’s team (4-1-2, 1-0) or the women’s team (8-0-1, 1-0).

“We’ve actually started off with several different injuries and have been trying to gain that chemistry from last year’s team,” said men’s head coach Jim Rickard. “I think a lot of the guys kind of expected the chemistry to just be there, but we’ve had to work on it.”

It’s not a matter of team unity, Rickard added, simply one of finding the right combinations, and players getting in sync with each other on the field.

Among last year’s losses were first-team NAIA All-American goalkeeper Kevin Lawson and standout midfielder Guilherme Mitrovitch.

Key returners include second-team NAIA All-American Jake Marchesani, Joel Peluffo and a defense that only gave up 16 goals last season.

That line consisted of Andy Hegg, Fabrice Gautrat, J.D. Hoeft and David Alegria, who shifted to midfield two weeks ago after Marcelo Silva’s ACL injury. David Myers now plays in his place, while Andrew Bussell has taken over in goal.

While the defense has been steady so far, the offense was slow to develop.

Last weekend’s games against Simpson and Southwestern provided promise as TMC won 7-1 and 5-1, respectively.

Those types of performances will be essential going forward if the men’s team hopes to repeat as champions in the GSAC, which features NAIA No. 5 Vanguard, No. 9 California Baptist, No. 12 Azusa Pacific and No. 24 Concordia.

The opposition looks equally tough on the women’s side. But with Saturday’s 1-0 win over NAIA No. 16 Pt. Loma Nazarene, the confidence is building.

Forward Emily Bruton scored the Mustangs’ lone goal on the day, and she leads the team with seven goals.

Bobbie Roberts, another one of the many returners from last season’s team, has scored five goals.

Also back are Robyn Estrada, Sierra Goff, Andie Reyes, Alissa Adkins, Rachel Myers, Kristyn Richards and goalkeeper Amanda Diamond (nee DuRocher), who has only given up one goal in seven games with 21 saves.

“(Diamond) brings a huge level of confidence to the team,” Lewis said. “A girl gets beat in the back and she doesn’t freak out.”

Though capable of holding its own on defense, TMC has outscored its opponents 33-2 so far, with seven shutouts.

“It’s like John Wooden,” Lewis said. “He always had a smaller team, but they always played a full-court press. That’s what we try to do.”

While the Mustangs have passed the first conference test, more remain.

On the horizon is No. 1 Azusa Pacific, No. 4 California Baptist and No. 8 Vanguard.

But both the women’s team and the men’s team have their sights on the long run, too.

“I don’t want my team paying their best this early in the season,” Rickard said. “We need to keep getting better and peak later in the year.”

The next NAIA top 25 poll will be released Tuesday.

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