Marshalltown, IA – Members of the Marshalltown Community College men's soccer team have been on campus since August 1 preparing for a highly anticipated 2018 season. The 2017 Tiger soccer team finished the regular season 12-2, suffering a 4-2 loss to the Lakers of Iowa Lakes Community College and a 1-0 loss to the Reivers of Iowa Western Community College. The season was highlighted by a 2-1 home victory over the #6 Warriors of Indian Hills Community College in a game that honored MCC Head Soccer Coach Rafael Martinez's youngest son, Pablo, who was battling Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Last year's squad averaged 15.3 shots on goal per game, and scored 65 times, averaging just over four goals a game. The Tigers will have to make up for the departure of All-American forward, Kino Ryosuke this season. Last year Ryosuke scored 23 times, making up 35% of the Tigers total scoring. Along with Ryosuke, Eneko Laseras departure will be hard to replace as he dominated the middle of the field, scored seven times and recorded five assists.
While last year's sophomore class boasted some Tiger all-time greats, this year's class of sophomores will look to make their own legacy in 2018. Returning All-Region selection, Rafael Vacas, will now command the center of the field. Last season Vacas recorded five goals and 11 assists, he will most likely be a target for opposing teams this season. Coach Martinez is pleased with Vacas's development over the summer, stating,
"Midfielder Rafael Vacas has had some really good experience in the PDL so we expect a jump in his level of play and the number of quality minutes that he can give us."
A new man will be in the net for the Tigers in 2018, sophomore Joel Serrano backed up Juan Gonzalez last season who gave up the second fewest goals in the conference. Serrano saw limited playing time, but when he got in the game, he made the most of it, recording six saves in a shutout victory over Century College.
"Joel Serrano also had significant PDL experience and he played for his National Team over the summer, he seems much more confident and ready for the upcoming year," stated Martinez. "The entire group of sophomores have showed up on campus ready for the season, I think they have done a better job throughout the summer preparing themselves so that they will be ready on day one. I also think their approach to a new leadership role has been very positive and they have been great role models to the younger players."
Coach Martinez has built a consistent winner in Marshalltown, recruiting top junior college prospects with the desire to improve their skill set is at the center of his recruiting philosophy. This incoming class of freshman have all the tools needed to step in and continue the success the program has seen in recent years.
"We are very balanced at every position with our freshman class, we brought in quality people that are eager to learn and develop their game," stated Martinez. "We have several freshman who are fighting for a starting spots so that creates great competition within the group at practice."
The Iowa Community College Athletic Conference (ICCAC) continues to be a national force in men's soccer, with three teams ranked in the NJCAA's first set of rankings. Iowa Western Community College, Marshalltown Community College, and Indian Hills Community College have been at the top of the conference for several years now but the ICCAC has several teams that can knock off the top three. Last year the Tigers fell to the Lakers of Iowa Lakes Community College. The Lakers have been fighting for the top seeds in the conference since Head Coach Ben Macrae arrived on the Iowa Lakes Spencer campus, and are again, predicted to make some noise in conference play. Iowa Central Community College is always a tough team to beat and are trying to get back to the National Tournament. The Tritons qualified back in 2009 but have been unable to defeat the likes of Iowa Western and Marshalltown in recent years.
After a disappointing ending to the season a year ago, the Tigers look to make the jump back to the National Tournament. Coach Martinez does not look that far ahead and instead focuses on the progress the team makes each day.
"Our expectations for this year is to win every day, that goes for practice and games. We have to win the day, we have to become a better team every day in practice and compete in every match that we play. There is nobody that we play that we cannot compete with, we have to show up every day ready to compete and if we prepare properly, there is nobody we cannot beat."
The men's soccer team have finished with their preseason scrimmages and are now preparing for their first official regular season game on Friday, August 24 when they travel to Northfield, Minnesota to take on the Knights of Carleton College. The Tigers will host its first home game on Tuesday, August 28 when the Raid Tails of Hawkeye Community College come to Marshalltown for a 4:00 PM showdown. The team will then kickoff its conference schedule on Saturday, September 8 when they travel to Fort Dodge to take on Iowa Central Community College at 2:00 PM.