FHSU soccer on road for opener
Published on -8/30/2012, 10:52 AM
By KLINT SPILLER
When Fort Hays State University men's soccer coach Brett Parker arranged his exhibition schedule, he wanted his team tested.
The Tigers scheduled NCAA Division I University of Central Arkansas, NJCAA powerhouse Barton Community College and Hastings College -- 2010 NAIA national champion and 2011 national runner-up.
So it wasn't too surprising when FHSU finished the preseason 1-1-1, but Parker said the experience should be valuable for the future.
For instance, Hastings College defeated FHSU 4-0 in the Tigers' final exhibition match Friday. Three of those goals were scored off set pieces.
Parker said it demonstrated the Tigers need to be more organized.
"They are a great program," Parker said. "They are one of those teams that will expose your weaknesses. That is why we scheduled them for an exhibition match."
FHSU begins its season at 6 p.m. (CDT) Friday at Colorado Christian University and will face South Dakota School of Mines at 4 p.m. Saturday on Colorado Christian's field.
Colorado Christian was terrible last season, finishing 0-18-1 with its only tie coming against Upper Iowa in the first week of the season, and South Dakota School of Mines is competing in its first season of men's soccer.
"The anticipity will be up," Parker said regarding Colorado Christian. "They will be on their home field."
However, Parker said he's not as worried about his opponents as he is about his own team.
"We are really focused on ourselves and how we can get better and improve," Parker said.
The Tigers return 10 players who started eight or more matches during last year's 11-5-2 season -- the first year of the program.
FHSU will be led by sophomore midfielder Diego Cabral, who was a third-team All-American selection as a freshman. Cabral finished with fives goals and 12 assists, which led the NCAA Division II South Central Region and was ranked third in NCAA Division II.
However, Cabral will be playing without the team's best forward -- senior Ricardo Yeverino.
Yeverino had off-season ACL surgery and will redshirt this season as he rehabilitates his knee.
"(Cabral's) still trying to find his role this season," Parker said. "He'll be the first to admit that a lot of his success came from playing with somebody like Ricardo up there. He's got to find a balance of being a playmaker and leading the attack ... and trusting the guys around him to get the job done."
Parker said he expects multiple players to help fill in for Yeverino, such as junior Daniel Peralta, senior Tomas Mares and sophomore Jaccob Rangel.
Peralta sat out last season after redshirting, but Parker said he's intelligent and can score goals. Mares scored the second-most goals for FHSU last season with five, and Parker said Rangel came in highly recruited last season and has improved greatly this offseason.
However, defense was the Tigers' bread and butter last season, allowing just one goal a game, and he expects that to be key again this season.
"That's always our staple, and it's what we have to get back to," Parker said.