Riverside, CA - The La Sierra University Golden Eagles men's soccer team will get their season underway on August 1, 2012, when they report for duty. The team will bid a farewell to what has been a busy off-season for the coaches and the student-athletes, as they prepared for this 2012 season. Nine months after their 2011 season came to an end, the 2012 squad will assemble, for their first official practice, on the first day NAIA institutions can officially begin their season.
The Golden Eagles return 13 players from last year's squad that finished with a record of 11-5-1. They will look to improve on that record with the addition of eight newcomers to the program. The newcomers will look to fill the void left by four graduating seniors. Luis Escamilla, Gabriel Esqueda, Shane Shelton, and David Nolan each played a significant role in the team's success last season.
Escamilla led the Golden Eagles in goals (8) and points (18). Shelton and Nolan each scored four goals on the season. The three midfielders combined for nearly 50 percent of the team's total shots, 40 percent of the team's shots on goal, and over 40 percent of the team's scoring and total points. Aside from the offensive production that the team will look to make up for, the Golden Eagles will start the season with a new goalkeeper. Esqueda led the team with a win-loss record of 8-4, with a 1.25 goals against average.
Head Coach Jesse Olivas, and the team, will welcome a total of eight newcomers to this season's roster, which includes six junior college transfers and two freshmen. Andru Camacho (Midfield), Jose Cosajay (Forward), and Jordan Davis (Midfield) join the Golden Eagles from Riverside Community College. While at Riverside Community College, Cosajay, who will look to fill the offensive void, led the Tigers in scoring with 15 points (six goals and three assists). Camacho, a native of Bolivia, is an experienced player who played on the U-16 Bolivian National Indoor soccer team. While Davis played two seasons at Riverside Community College, out of Centennial High School where he earned All-Conference honors in his senior year.
Also joining the 2012 squad will be Wade Dixon (Goalkeeper) who arrives at La Sierra from Signal Hill, CA. Bryan Gutierrez, an All-League forward from Chino Hills High School, was a member of the Chelsea club team that was National Champions in 2008 and 2010. Gutierrez was also a member of the Adidas Select ID camp that traveled to Real Madrid in 2009 and played on the U-18 Arsenal Academy team. Kenneth Henry and Steven Henry both join the Golden Eagles after playing two seasons at Contra Costa College (San Pablo, CA). Kenneth Henry led the Comets in scoring last season and was named to the Bay Valley Conference All Conference team. Steven Henry, a 5'11 defender, was the Comets team captain and was also named to the Bay Valley All Conference team. Jessie Romero, a 6'2 defender from Canyon Country, CA, rounds out the 2012 recruiting class. Romero spent two seasons at College of the Canyons where he helped lead his team to a runner-up finish, in 2010, at the California Community College State Championship.
These new additions, combined with the experienced returning class, should prove to provide an exciting season of Golden Eagles soccer. "The style of soccer won't change much," said Olivas. "We're still going to be a very possession-oriented and attacking-minded team. The addition of this talented recruiting class should bring out the competition within the group, that can only make us better."
The 2012 campaign will begin with an exhibition match at Vanguard University, on August 16. The Golden Eagles will then travel to northern California for their first two official matches, which is being termed The Adventist Cup, as they will face two sister institutions on the weekend of August 19-20. Both opponents are affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church, along with La Sierra University. La Sierra will open play against the tournament host, Pacific Union College, on Sunday, followed by a match against Walla Walla University on Monday afternoon. The Golden Eagles will play only four of their 18 matches at home this season, beginning with their home-opener against Marymount College (Rancho Palos Verdes, CA), on September 23, at 6pm.
The challenging schedule consists of matches primarily against opponents from the California Pacific Conference and the Golden State Athletic Conference, along with matches against the University of California Santa Cruz (NCAA Division III) and California State University-San Marcos, a fellow member of the Association of Independent Institutions.
"This is a tremendous group of young men," said Olivas. "I believe they will work hard and strive to get better every single day…what we strive for, is to simply get better every day. If we do that, I think we will have the opportunity to do some good things this season."