Strength in numbers: Lake Tahoe Community College men’s soccer counting on depth in second season
2015 Regular Season Schedule
Aug. 29 vs. Fresno City, 1 p.m.
Aug. 31 at Folsom Lake, Noon
Sept. 4 vs. Hartnell, 11 a.m. (at Cal State Monterey Bay)
Sept. 5 vs. Cerritos, Noon (at Rabobank Stadium)
Sept. 6 vs. Irvine, Noon (at Rabobank Stadium)
Sept. 12 vs. De Anza, 1 p.m.
Sept. 19 vs. West Hills, 1 p.m.
Sept. 21 vs. Lassen, 1 p.m.
Sept. 24 at Foothill, 2 p.m.
Sept. 25 at Contra Costa, 4 p.m.
*Sept. 29 at Lassen, 4 p.m.
*Oct. 6 at Feather River, 4 p.m.
*Oct. 9 vs. Butte, 2 p.m.
*Oct. 13 vs. Redwoods, 4 p.m. (at Butte)
*Oct. 20 at Shasta, 4 p.m.
Oct. 24 vs. Gavilan, 3 p.m.
*Oct. 27 vs. Lassen, 4 p.m.
*Oct. 30 vs. Feather River, 2 p.m.
*Nov. 3 at Butte, 2 p.m.
*Nov. 6 vs. Redwoods, Noon (at Shasta)
*Nov. 13 vs. Shasta, 11 a.m.
*Golden Valley Conference match
Home games in bold
The 2015 Lake Tahoe Community College men’s soccer team has more players than any junior college team in California. And the nationally-ranked Coyotes are counting on that depth to build off a strong inaugural campaign.
“We have four people for every position fighting for that spot,” LTCC head coach Ben Wade said. “That breeds competition, competition breeds greatness, and the cream will rise to the top.”
The Coyotes’ program made its debut in 2014, and finished 14-5-3 after advancing to the second round of the CCCAA NorCal Regional playoffs and winning the Golden Valley Conference. Eight starters from that team have moved on to play at four-year schools, but that hasn’t deterred LTCC from aiming high in its second season.
“Most coaches would call this a rebuilding year, but I set high expectations and goals for these guys,” Wade said. “We actually want to do better this year.”
Five players remain from last year’s team, led by Ivan Rodriguez. The sophomore winger from Las Vegas is the Coyotes’ captain, a role he relishes.
“There are not many sophomores this year, but we want them to know it’s not a joke,” Rodriguez said. “I just want to set the tone and show what it takes to be a starter. We started the program, so we better finish strong.”
LTCC’s second-year group includes South Lake Tahoe natives Carlos Trujeque and Andres Orozco along with British internationals Michael Akin and Jerrell Cato. Trujeque said it’s up to the sophomores to communicate to new players expectations that come along with playing for the Coyotes.
“We wear the jerseys with our hearts, and it’s really important for us because this is our last year,” said Trujeque, who will play a major role in the Coyotes’ attack. “We know what it takes — all the hard work, dedication and discipline that coach wants — and this year we’re going to go 10 times harder.”
The Coyotes have 32 players on their first team, made up equally of American and international players. And the team’s newcomers will bring a high level of talent to the pitch, including attacking players Ross Brogan, Luis Ponce and Josh Sapsed.
“We really tried to filter out these guys and give them every opportunity to shine,” Wade said. “Now that we have our first team selected, we’re going to watch and see who continues to emerge.”
Lake Tahoe was ranked 17th in the country in the NSCAA Junior College Div. III preseason rankings released earlier this month. While that national recognition is based mostly on the performance of last year’s team, it matches the Coyotes’ expectations for the upcoming season.
“The main goal is to take it all,” Rodriguez said. “We’re not the kind of team that just wants to get past what we did last year — we’re aiming for the title.”
LTCC opens its 2015 season at home against 18th-ranked Fresno City College (Fresno, Calif.) on Saturday at 1 p.m. Before the Coyotes begin Golden Valley Conference play on Sept. 29, they’ll face four nationally ranked opponents starting with the Rams.
“We have a brutal preseason, even tougher than last year,” Wade said. “That’s good — we want to play the best and measure our team as quickly as possible.”