Spooner pleased, hopeful as soccer preseason begins
08.05.2014 | By John Bechtle, for sanjacsports.com
A complete rebuilding effort wasn’t necessary, but San Jacinto College men’s soccer head coach Ian Spooner was a busy man this offseason.
His task? Restocking the two-year program’s talent pool after the loss of one of the nation’s best sophomore classes, including National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) leading scorer Sito Seoane.
Spooner, in just his first full season as permanent head coach, nearly led San Jacinto College to its first-ever national crown. Instead, the team lost a hard-fought 2-0 matchup to Tyler in heavy rains in the NJCAA semifinals, eventually finishing the season at 20-2, the most wins in program history. Seoane, who ended the 2013 season with 30 goals and 74 total points, both national highs, headed an impressive exit class. The forward was named a National Soccer Coaches Association of America first team All-American and garnered numerous other accolades.
Pablo Vasquez (NSCAA first team All-American), who scored 33 points last season, has also moved on. So has NJCAA national tournament team honoree Ezequiel Amestoy (NJCAA postseason tournament team selection) and Michael Rich, who started all but two of the team’s 22 matches in goal. Rich, who had 68 saves and five shutouts over the season, was an all-Region XIV second team pick.
Yet another standout, Call Cazares, signed with Midwestern State University in the offseason after being named the San Jacinto College Newcomer of the Year in 2013.
In all, Spooner has to be proud of what became his first recruiting class following the 2011 season. Of the 14 sophomores who have now moved on, 12 saw significant playing time, and 11 went on to ink national letters of intent to play at four-year institutions.
But as players have arrived and begun work-outs, Spooner and the San Jacinto College program will simply move forward.
Local talent O’Neal Moore of Alief Taylor leads the list of returnees after scoring 17 goals and dealing another four assists in 2013. Joao Monteiro (34 points, All-Region XIV second team honors), is also on his way back.
As he looks to 2014, Spooner is well aware that only about five of his returnees saw significant playing time in 2013. It’s time to get back to work.
Along with Moore and Monteiro, Ian Barbosa started and played in all 22 matches last season, while Gonzalo Orozco started 20 times. Players come and go, especially at two-year stops like San Jacinto College. But Spooner’s first recruiting class as head coach was a sparkler. He knows what’s possible.
“Getting back to nationals and bringing back that championship is always the goal,” Spooner said. “It’s going to be difficult. Always is. But we have some guys who got a taste of it last season and are hungry to start the journey again.”
Clearly, Moore and Monteiro are going to be asked to carry the bulk of the scoring load, especially early on. But opposing teams are going to mark those two consistently, and others will have to step up. With a final roster set, he feels as though several freshmen are capable of stepping up. He feels equally confident about some of the players being brought in to fortify the defense.
The midfield, where stars Pablo Vasquez and David Perez previously resided, will also need to be addressed. As for the nets, Spooner has recruited two players from Cy-Falls High School and another player is tranferring in from Darton College.
All together, the list of incoming freshmen includes Roberto Diaz Fernandez (Madrid, Spain), Doolin O’Toole (Dublin, Ireland), Esteban Reyes (San Marcos, Calif.), Jesus Melendrez (San Marcos, Calif.), Cristian Rodriguez (San Marcos, Calif.), DeMonte Dudley (Colombus, Ga.), Erivaldo Vieira (Baton Rouge, La.), Nathan Ariaya (Austin), Fabian Billings (Austin), Saheed Atolagbe (Houston), Prince Ihenacho (Houston), Gavin Ng (Houston), Rami Najeeba (Houston), Angel Cordona (Houston), MarcAnthone Magana (Housto), Jhonattan Garduno (Houston), Derick Gonzales (Houston), and Patrick Dunigan (Houston).
“It’s going to have to be a team effort,” he said. “Getting 30 goals out of a player like Sito every year simply isn’t going to happen often. We have such a big freshman class coming in, and we know it will take a little while for them to get used to the speed of play and style we play at San Jacinto. But I look forward to getting started with this new group of guys on our goal of winning a national championship. It’s an exciting time of the year. We’re focused on getting things going and seeing where our hard work takes us.”
About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. As an Achieving the Dream Leader College, San Jacinto College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of 30,000 credit students in more than 200 degree and certificate options, including university transfer and career and workforce preparation. Students benefit from the College’s job training programs, renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region, and a support system that maps out a pathway for success. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce. San Jacinto College. Your Goals. Your College.