The Master’s University men’s soccer team ended the season earlier than expected with a loss in the Golden State Athletic Conference Tournament semifinals in 2017. Ahead of the 2018 season, the Mustangs return a slew of players, coupled with a few transfers that they hope will put them in better position to advance further in the postseason.
Making three starts at goalkeeper for William Woods University in Fulton, Missouri last year, Matheus Taraszkiewicz will try to build on last year’s 11-save season in his sophomore campaign after Casey Phillips graduated.
“He’s from Brazil and also played at another NAIA institution last year, so you can say that he has some experience,” said TMU men’s soccer coach Jim Rickard. “He wasn’t a starter, but he’s got great footwork, good air game, good range and he’s a leader.”
Incoming freshmen Price Anderson will look to give Taraszkiewicz some healthy competition for the starting role.
Senior Matthew Logan and junior Justin Ikeora will headline the backline for the Mustangs this year. Logan was the Mustangs most reliable defender and a headache for the opposition, helping the Mustangs to seven shutout games.
Similarly, Ikeora started all 20 games in 2017 being as versatile as any defender, switching between forward and defender throughout the year.
Brayden Campos and Taylor Howard also return to the Mustangs backline. Campos is a multi-faceted player took who took over for Phillips at goalie and will be a key figure for the Mustangs. Howard, a third-year player, played in 18 matches, five of which he started at midfield.
Graduate student Cameron Molyneux, Santa Barbara City College transfer Pablo Santiago and Fullerton College transfer, Tyler Grassi will provide some more depth and experience in the backline.
“Cam is going to be playing in the back,” said Rickard. “He’s just a mature player and is getting his master’s degree, so he’s a little bit older and more experienced.
“Tyler will probably play at the center back position. We really like him because he communicates, he’s enthusiastic and kind of a magnet for our team. All the guys really like him.”
Golden State Athletic Conference Player of the Year, Benji Tembo will return for his senior season in the midfield, after being named to the third team NAIA All-American team. He finished the year with 17 goals and 42 points.
“I just want to be fit because I struggled with a quad injury last season so I just want to get healthy and get in as many games I can,” Tembo said.
Taking a different approach this season Tembo added, “I plan on leading in assists, actually.”
Tembo will be accompanied by a slew of seniors and juniors in the midfield with the likes of seniors Daniel Smith, Leonardo Anjos and Jonathan Brown, along with junior Luis Garcia Sosa.
Looking to provide the scoring will be senior Trevor Mangan and junior Dylan Bielanski.
Mangan finished second on the team with a career-high eight goals last season and Bielanski won the starting job with two weeks left in the season last year. He is expected to begin the season the way it ended, as a starter.
“No I’m not feeling any pressure, I’m more excited than anything,” Mangan said. “We have a lot of seniors this year so we hope to have a good team. It’s going to be fun.
“We have been doing two-a-days, so that’s helped a lot with the team bonding. The newcomers are pretty good this year so we are really excited.”