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TMP soccer begins tough schedule

Published on -8/29/2012, 10:17 AM

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By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

Thomas More Prep-Marian boys' soccer coach Shawn Lawson doesn't have any grandiose goals or expectations for his team. He just expects his team to be competitive.

However, with TMP being a Class 3A school and most of its opponents either 5A or 6A schools, some might regard being competitive as a difficult task.

"We basically play a WAC schedule," Lawson said. "... It seems like each year our schedule gets a little tougher."

The Monarchs will feature a relatively new squad following 2011's 6-11 season. TMP graduated five starters from last year and lost two players to moves.

But Lawson said that's a problem his team faces every season.

"Every year, we lose a bunch of kids, and we get a bunch of new faces," he said. "With (international students), you don't have any idea what you have coming in."

The Monarchs do return senior defender Carlos Duenes from Mexico. He was a second-team selection in the Southwest Central Region last season.

"Carlos has been a big part of the defense last year," Lawson said. "... He's probably one of the best defensive players that I've had at TMP since I've been coaching."

Senior Rodney Gracas de Deus, originally from Angola, transferred to TMP last spring and will see some time at midfield.

Deus made headlines last spring when he finished second and third in the 200-meter and 100-meter dashes in Class 3A, respectively.

"Rodney is kind of a spark plug, too," Lawson said. "Where ever the ball's at, he's going to be."

Sophomore Jordan Pfannenstiel, freshman Fernando Gonzalez and sophomore Jorge Murra will rotate at center midfield with Deus. Sophomores Eduardo Chavez, Tyler Rueschhoff and Christopher Park will get time at outside midfield.

Senior Robert Niyonsaba and sophomore Jack You, who each played outside midfield last season, will transition to forward. Rueschhoff and sophomore Liam Stults also will see some time at forward.

Duenes will anchor the back line at centerback.

Joining him will be senior Sam Polifka, a student from Ellis High School. Three players from Ellis will play for TMP as part of a cooperative agreement.

Sophomores Diego Martin, Caine Sehl and Stults will rotate at outside defender.

Junior Collan Lawson will replace all-state goalkeeper Drew O'Brien, who graduated last year.

"The past couple of years he's been playing midfield for us, but he's got a lot of experience in goal," Shawn Lawson said.

As a whole, the team features players from six countries and six towns in Kansas.

"It's always a challenge to get all of them to play together," Lawson said. "They've got cultural differences, age differences, vocational differences. Just getting everybody to know each other's first names is sometimes a challenge."

Lawson said the coaches try to keep them as mixed up in practice as possible in order to get them to play together.

"We tell them to split up, and at first, they mix up with their friends, so I say split up with somebody you don't know," Lawson said.

The Monarchs finished below .500 last season, but seven of their losses were decided by one goal.

"We were extremely competitive with the big schools," Lawson said. "That's what I was looking at last year, and that's what I'm looking at this year is be competitive."

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