The Master’s University soccer coach Jim Rickard used two words to confirm a deluge of 13 newcomers.
Are that many guys really coming in for the fall?
“Yes,” he said.
Is that some kind of record?
The Mustangs graduated eight players from last year’s 11-7-2 squad, which finished fifth in the Golden State Athletic Conference and missed the NAIA tournament. Four other players left for various reasons.
But TMU won’t be lacking in depth.
The host of newbies includes players from Brazil, Michigan, Colombia, Washington, Scotland, Georgia, Utah and California.
Kevin Marroquin and Jonah Hydar hail from Hart High and join a solid core of Santa Clarita Valley products already playing for the Mustangs.
Valencia High graduates Luis Garcia Sosa and Justin Ikeora are back for their sophomore campaigns.
Garcia Sosa, who had one goal and seven assists as a freshman, is part of a crowded and talented midfield, which features incoming Brazilian Leonardo Anjos, a junior Rickard described as “fantastic.”
Benjamin Tembo (10 goals, four assists last year) and Jonathan Brown return to the midfield, too.
Tembo is the team’s lone returning all-Golden State Athletic Conference player. The Mustangs graduated the other two, both forwards: Valencia grad Zach Klindworth (10 assists) and Humphrey Mahowa (14 goals).
It’s possible Rickard will call on Ikeora to help boost the attack.
“I go back and forth every day,” Rickard said. “Do I want to play him at forward with his speed? He’s not a great, calm finisher. But he’s so athletic he can finish with his work rate and athleticism. If my defense is solid, then I might keep him at forward.”
Another forward, Saugus High graduate Trevor Mangan scored six goals as a freshman in 2015, but just one last year. Rickard felt like a number of the 6-foot-2 rising junior’s shots were on the cusp of going in.
“Things were so close or hitting the post and just missing,” Rickard said. “I’m really hoping for a breakout season.”
Valencia grad Dylan Bielanski can play any position on the field. Where exactly he’ll play, though, is a question fair to ask of him and any number of players on the team.
With such a big incoming group, Rickard said it will take a while to figure out where all the pieces fit.
But TMU, which also features Canyon grad Tristin Rochow, a senior captain and center defender, doesn’t have much time.
The Mustangs open regular-season play on Aug. 19 at home against Northwest University of Washington.