In the offseason, College of the Canyons men’s soccer did some “weeding out,” according to coach Philip Marcellin.
“We were a very talented and under motivated group last year in some respects,” Marcellin said. “We’ve kind of cleaned out.”
The Cougars, which feature a host of freshmen, are taking a tougher approach to this season after finishing 8-12-2 overall and 4-5-1 in conference year ago. Marcellin thinks many of the newcomers will be vying for starting positions.
“It’s conceivable that come the end of the season we could be starting eight or nine freshmen in the starting 11,” he said.
The coaching staff, most of which was new last season, took a long, hard look at itself and its performance last season in order to return a sense of grit to the pitch.
“I keep telling them, we have to get our soul back,” said Marcellin.
“Our goal (as coaches) is to make amends for that from a leadership standpoint. Hold them to a higher level of accountability and responsibility than maybe we were doing before.”
A strong midfield is the centerpiece of this year’s team. Guys like Christian Arguello (Saugus grad), Matt Garcia and Tyler Jovel are just a few new players who help create depth at midfield.
Although they haven’t seen game action together, center forward Josh Ausherman is already noticing the midfield’s abilities.
“They are aware of how I am so they find me more often and it helps me perform better overall,” Ausherman, a sophomore, said. “And it helps the team perform better because they’re so aware and they know where everyone else is on the field.”
A defense that notched five shutouts last season is only returning one player in Jesus Mejia. Jovel, a freshman central mid, thinks that the midfield can help with that, too.
“As long as one person takes command and tells everyone to drop back, then we all support and help each other when it comes to counterattacks or anything like that,” he said.
JD Lukubika Alves and Ausherman return as leaders on the attack, along with Jaime Erazo and Aaron Winsick, another Saugus grad.
Ausherman was second on the team with nine points on four goals last season, while Winsick was third with three goals and one assist for seven points.
While the defense is steadily building to become more resistant, the offense plans to hit the ground running so that the number of goals conceded is a secondary thought.
“We’re trying more things, we’re being more creative than last year,” Ausherman said. “Last year was kind of like, we’d try one thing and it wouldn’t succeed so we wouldn’t try anything new. But this year we’re getting creative, we’re trying new things and it’s a lot more productive.”
Canyons begins its season with a scrimmage at The Master’s University on Aug. 16 at 4 p.m.