Posted: Aug 13, 2018
SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The 2018 edition of Santa Clara men's soccer returns eights players who played in at least 11 matches last year including three West Coast Conference All-Freshman selections from a squad that finished fifth in the conference standings.
The Broncos return 17 players in all and welcome 11 newcomers who had an opportunity to go on a foreign tour to Denmark last month.
"This past summer, we were fortunate enough to take our team to Denmark. We are allowed to do that by NCAA rules once every four years, so it was a great opportunity for us to get our group early," said Broncos head coach Cam Rast who is starting his 17th year at the helm. "We have a lot of newcomers that we are very excited to include in the group. Having a chance to be able to train with them for 10 days and be able to play five games over in Denmark was invaluable. It was invaluable for our preparation, invaluable for us continuing to move our program forward and try to get it back to where we believe it needs to be."
Santa Clara last made the NCAA tournament in 2015 where three of the current squad members were part of – Brandon Gillingham, Andres Jimenez and Matthew Sipowicz. The trio along with Dakota Havlick who transferred from UCLA in 2016, comprise the senior class.
"We have a number of guys that are leaders in our group. Even though there aren't that many seniors, our leadership with Dakota Havlick and Brandon Gillingham are as solid as you can get. They do the right things and give the examples of what we need done. Now it's a matter of us putting that to the test," said Rast about the two captains for the 2018 team.
Rast broke down the positional battles for the upcoming season, emphasizing his hope on the development of the newcomers challenging the returnees, coupled with the strong leadership that his senior class provides.
"One of the things we hope for with this year's squad is the returners will be pushed and will continue to stretch their game. The returners I think got a little lesson in that from what the pros look like over in Denmark and some of them got a good sense that the young guys are going to push for some playing time," Rast said.
Newcomers (0): None
Squad Members Lost (1): Seamus Hudnut
At the goalkeeping position, Santa Clara returns three players with starting experience, led by Dakota Havlick who has started in 21 games over the past two seasons including eight last year. The senior started in all conference games after returning from an injury to post a 3-4-1 record with a 1.70 goals against average along with two clean sheets.
"Dakota by all accountable measures is healthy and should be working to solidify himself to get the starting nod from day one," said Rast. "He is somebody who is very steady, a good shot stopper and has the presence and judgment to make quick decisions."
In Havlick's absence last season, redshirt sophomore Henning Jolivet and sophomore Aran O'Brien combined to start in seven matches and played in nine overall, logging over 900 minutes of playing time.
"Henning and Aran are there to push Dakota. They need to push him because they need to rise to his level. As a matter of fact I think they both need to continue to push hard enough that it questions whether Dakota is on form, that should we consider a making a change or not. I think that's their challenge. Consistency becomes a big part of figuring out who our number two goalkeeper is," said Rast.
Newcomers (5): Alejandro Barajas (FR), Sakari Carter (FR), Emil Christensen (FR), Alejandro Perez (FR), Martin Aasen (FR)
Squad Members Lost (4): Valdemar Andersen, Martin Riedler, Kyle Schumann, John Spurling
The backline lost an All-Conference performer in Valdemar Andersen to graduation as Rast and the coaching staff seeks to find out who can step into the center back role. The Broncos conceded 2.47 goals per game last season and are looking to shore up its defense with a mix of veterans and newcomers.
"The backs' priority are obviously to make plays and keep opponents from scoring goals but really it becomes more of a team mentality to defend well," said Rast.
"The backline is going to be interesting to see how it unfolds. Emil Christensen has been with the program since January and before that, he honed his skills back home in Denmark where he played at a high level. Then you have, Sakari Carter who will likely compete for time, maybe even a starting role. He's got some great international experience, having lived in France. But even his youth career with the Seattle Sounders was very successful. His consistency and quality continue to earn him playing time."
In the wide back positions, the Broncos have a couple of returnees in Terrell Smith, who was named to the conference All-Freshman team, manning the left side and junior Dylan Carrubba on the right. But a couple of freshmen have caught the eyes of the coaching staff in Martin Utgaard and Alejandro Perez.
"We think Martin might be able to compete for a spot. The quality of his play was evident right away. We also have a newcomer that was maybe our most pleasant surprise and that's Alejandro Perez. Over in Denmark, Alejandro showed a mentality and an approach where we think he can play in the wide positions right away," said Rast.
Redshirt sophomore Matt Golbranson will also challenge in the middle and Isaac Olusina as well as newcomer Alejandro Barajas pushing to add depth to the backline.
Returners (9): Alex Achramowicz (SO), Sam Agosti F/M (JR), Javier Ruiz Duran F/M (SO), Brandon Gillingham (SR), Andres Jimenez (SR), Miles Robinson (JR), Nate Shue F/M (SO), Matthew Sipowicz (SR), Tennyson Stevens (R-FR),
Squad Members Lost (5): , Jalani Ambrose, Dylan Caton, Babacar Diallo, Keanu Mendoza, Stefano Paolina
At midfield, the Broncos return a slew of veterans including two conference All-Freshmen selections in Javier Ruiz Duran and Nate Shue. Each recorded a pair of goals, and along with junior Miles Robinson, are the leading returning goal scorers. Robinson also tallied four assists to lead the team with eight points among the returners.
"Gillingham will likely see some time at midfield and may even become a primary role for him," Rast said. "Andres Jimenez has put in so many good shifts for us in the midfield. We are really looking to see who else can balance that out to see who is going to be that third midfielder who can really add a punch to the attack. But the player has to be willing to defend and discipline themselves to understanding that role and wanting to compete for it. Right now, we're still very much in a flux to see who will become that guy but we have some talented players."
One such candidate is sophomore Alex Achramowicz who played in 15 matches last year, as Rast likes his quickness and ball handling.
Another is junior Sam Agosti, who was named second-team College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-American as well as WCC All-Academic team.
"Sam can play deeper in the midfield like he did a little bit last year and maybe play a little bit higher if he can really discipline himself in that role. He could be someone that'll be very good at it. He did it in his youth ranks with plenty of success," said Rast.
Shue will also compete for an attacking position, a spot he played some last season.
At the attacking wides, Ruiz Duran and Robinson have a leg up on the competition.
"At the end of last season, Javier was playing his best soccer and becoming a more impactful guy that he needs to be," said Rast. "And Miles Robinson is a runner. Miles can run by guys and he's very difficult to defend. He is long and lanky and difficult to figure out so we want to keep Miles wider for the most part."
As one of the four seniors, Matthew Sipowicz will provide leadership to the youngsters including redshirt freshman Tennyson Stevens and newcomers Julian Bravo, RJ Egdorf, Eduardo Lopez Perez and Bishop Washington.
Returners (1): Isaac Addai D/F (SO)
Squad Members Lost (3): Yoshi Chaffin, Carlos Delgadillo, Jonathan Jarrett
At the forward position, the Broncos will look to rely on a couple of newcomers in freshman Presten Manthey and sophomore Alan Jonathan Camacho Soto, a transfer from Temple. They will attempt to fill the production left void by the senior class including Carlos Delgadillo who finished his career as the eighth leading goal scorer in Bronco history with 24 goals.
"We have a couple of guys that are new that are different and want to help," said Rast. "Alan has come in and has got a year of college soccer under his belt where he scored some goals at Temple. I think he's one of those guys when he gets his chances there's a good possibility, a good percentage of goals that he'll score.
"Presten Manthey scored some goals over in Denmark on the foreign tour. He needs to continue to bring his game back towards what we're asking in the team. He is a creative player and showed a propensity to get to dangerous spots and take chances with the ball.
"We will look at Isaac Addai as a forward. His pace makes him very difficult to deal with so he just might become a good option in that position.
"Anytime you have a lot of young players (20 underclassmen in all), I think that understanding and willingness to work hard for each other can unify and bond them because you know you're going through with these players for a couple of years as you have a chance to get to know each other well and commit to each other. So that part is really cool and I'm looking forward to that."
Santa Clara will play a pair of home exhibition matches with the first matching coming on Wednesday against Sacramento State followed by a Sunday match against San José State before opening its regular season against San Diego State on August 24 at Stevens Stadium.
Among the 17 regular season matches, six will be played at home and 11 on the road including in four states - Virginia, Missouri, Georgia and Ohio. The Broncos will play five teams that qualified for the 2017 NCAA tournament teams playing four of them on the road and one at home.
Fans can purchase single game tickets starting at $9 with a season plan costing $56 per person.
The Broncos will host a total of eight matches at Stevens Stadium this season, beginning Aug. 15 against Sacramento State in an exhibition match. Santa Clara will open its regular season against San Diego State on Aug. 24. The regular season home slate concludes Oct. 28 against Portland.
Group tickets are starting at $7 per ticket for a group of 10 plus. Group and season tickets can be purchased by contacting the ticket office at (408) 554-4660 or BroncoTickets@scu.edu. Pricing is subject to change.