Young team pulls their own weight

Ryan Welsh -- Blossoming men’s soccer finds success despite being mostly underclassmen.

It is hard to believe that the California Baptist men’s soccer team is made up of mostly under-classmen since the Lancers are second in the Pacific West Conference behind Hawaii Pacific University.

The young team, including fourteen sophomores and freshman, six of which are starters, has a record of 4-1 in the conference and can credit their success to team chemistry.

“We’ve been recruiting players that fit how we want to play-that are willing to work for one another and have a great attitude,” Head Coach Ryan Jorden said.

Last season, the CBU men’s soccer team finished second overall in the NAIA Golden State Athletic Conference with a conference total of eight wins and two losses.

Moving to a new conference with a team that doesn’t have as much experience in collegiate sports may be nerve-racking to some coaches, but coach Ryan Jorden does not think so.

“We want to play the best schedule possible no matter what. We play the best teams in order to raise the bar… that’s why we’re playing teams like UC Riverside, UC San Diego, and CalState Domingo Hills” Jorden said.

With under-classmen being the prominent make-up of the team, including freshman Michael Salazar who helps lead the team in goals, and both goalkeepers who are underclassmen, many wonder how team leadership is maintained.

“The upperclassmen have taught me how to work hard and improve on the little things to be a more successful player.” Salazar says.

With such a diverse set of players, the team knows that in order to continue being successful they have to teach themselves as individuals and focus on personal strengths to use and weaknesses to work on in order to better themselves as a team.

The players are coached and trained in a way that works for that individual, since everyone learns differently and has a different personality; and their coaching is catered to that.

“We all work together and do our best to keep each other motivated stick together as one, and always remember that we are a team of 23 and not as an individual,” Salazar said.

The Lancers are handling their 2011 season with stability so far and some tough teams will approach them later in the season such as Grand Canyon University and Hawaii Pacific University, but Jorden doesn’t plan on changing the way they play the game.

“We are not going to change what we are trying to do, but just counteract what the other team is doing…we still have a lot of work to do,” Jorden said. “We have everyone pulling their own weight, everyone is serving one another with different strengths-hoping to set an example for freshman and prospective players.”

Along with Michael Salazar, Seniors Osvaldo Batista and Rupert Willie have done their share of putting points on the board and all three have strong assist records.

The CBU Men’s Soccer team plays next in Phoenix, Ariz., where they will face Seattle Pacific University and Western Washington University.

About Aarika Hernandez

Sports Editor

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