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The Elizabethtown Community and Technical College men’s soccer team looks and acts quite differently from its debut season last year.
That’s for good reason.
Of the 18 players on the roster to begin the 16-game season, which starts Saturday afternoon in Owensboro in a scrimmage against the NAIA Brescia University’s varsity, only four are back from last season. The returnees are goalkeeper Andrew Buckles (home schooled/Elizabethtown Christian Academy product), midfielder/defender Michael Bell (Central Hardin), midfielder David Gomez (John Hardin) and midfielder Jake Bartelt (Elizabethtown).
Bell, who is a co-captain along with Buckles, said the preseason hasn’t been that much different from last year, when every player was new.
“Everybody’s out there doing what we can to try to bond a little bit so we can make the team stronger,” Bell said. “But I think we’re looking stronger. I think we have a lot better attack. Now our defense still needs some work, but I think we’re going to be all right.”
The defense got a boost with the transfer of former John Hardin standout Will Kohler, who made 17 starts last season for the NAIA St. Catharine College varsity.
“It was an expensive college. I mean I started all year, but it was just way too expensive,” Kohler said. “I was going to end up with $30,000 in loans in just two years.”
Kohler didn’t return home alone as former John Hardin star Chris Wilk, who started four times and appeared off the bench in 10 contests last season for the St. Catharine varsity, chose to go to college closer to his roots.
The Barons also picked up three transfers – all Central Hardin graduates – from NAIA power Lindsey Wilson College in midfielder Nikos Mastoroudis, midfielder/striker Tristan Long and goalkeeper/field player Zach Page. Mastoroudis came off the bench four times last year for the Blue Raiders’ varsity, while Long was a star running back/receiver in high school and Page also played football in his prep days.
“I think we have a really good team because everyone’s cooperating and moving the ball well,” Mastoroudis said. “I’m just excited for this season.”
Other newcomers include Cheyenne Perkins (LaRue County), Avery Buckles (home schooled/Elizabethtown Christian), Tyler Gipson (Madison Southern), Jacob Thompson, Brandon Centers (Central Hardin), Salvador Quintana (Madison Southern), Drew Taylor (Madison Southern), Mason Morgan (LaRue County) and Alex Cook (LaRue County).
“As far as skill level goes, we’re definitely a step up this season,” Andrew Buckles said. “We have a lot of skilled players this year, which is an improvement.”
Andrew Buckles said he is a little more at ease this season, compared to getting thrown into the fire at a stressful position like goalkeeper last season.
“It had its challenges,” he said with a laugh. “And from the places I had played, it might have been a bigger adjustment for me compared to some players.”
The Barons will be on the road quite a bit this season, but they were able to get home games at the Elizabethtown Sports Park with St. Catharine (Aug. 23, 7 p.m.) and Lindsey Wilson (Oct. 2, 7 p.m.) as well as Southern State Community College of Hillsboro, Ohio (Aug. 25, 1 p.m.). The Barons will also host the JV team from NAIA Mid-Continent University at 7 p.m. Sept. 6 at Mike Carroll Soccer Complex in Elizabethtown.
ECTC will play all four home opponents on the road.
Other schools on the schedule include Asbury University’s JV, Kentucky Christian University’s varsity, Bellarmine University’s club, Campbellsville University’s JV and Spalding University’s JV.
Head coach Alex Molina said the Barons learned a lot from their debut.
“We learned we had to go out and recruit new players and not just go with what we had,” said Molina, a former high school coach with John Hardin and Fort Knox. “But we’ll have a pretty good team this year and I’m happy to say we have at least 18 on the roster.”
Nathaniel Bryancan be reached at 270-505-1758 or email@example.com
Head: Alex Molina
Assistant: Angel Hernandez
3: Cheyenne Perkins
4: Nikos Mastoroudis
5: Will Kohler
6: Chris Wilk
7: Tristan Long
8: Avery Buckles
9: David Gomez
11: Tyler “Abe” Gipson
12: Jacob Thompson
15: Brandon Centers
16: Salvador Quintana
17: Michael Bell
18: Drew Taylor
19: Mason Morgan
20: Alex Cook
21/13: Zach Page
23: Andrew Buckles
N/A: Jacob Bartelt
Date: Opponent (Level), Site, Time
Aug. 17: At Brescia University Bearcats (Varsity), Owensboro, 6 p.m.
AUG. 23, ST. CATHARINE COLLEGE PATRIOTS (JV), ELIZABETHTOWN SPORTS PARK, 7 P.M.
AUG. 25, SOUTHERN STATE COMMUNITY COLLEGE PATRIOTS (JUCO), ELIZABETHTOWN SPORTS PARK, 1 P.M.
Aug. 31: At St. Catharine College Patriots (JV), St. Catharine, 7 p.m.
Sept. 6, MID-CONTINENT UNIVERSITY COUGARS (JV), MIKE CARROLL SOCCER COMPLEX, 7 P.M.
Sept. 14: Vs. Asbury University Eagles (JV), Campbellsville U. (Semis), 10 a.m.
Sept. 14: Vs. Campbellsville Tigers (JV) or St. Catharine Patriots (JV), Campbellsville U. (3rd or 1st Place), 2 or 4 p.m.
Sept. 21: At Kentucky Christian University Knights (Varsity), Grayson, 3 p.m.
Sept. 23: At Lindsey Wilson College Blue Raiders (JV), Columbia, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 28: At Mid-Continent University Cougars (JV), Mayfield, Noon
OCT. 2: LINDSEY WILSON COLLEGE BLUE RAIDERS (JV), ELIZABETHTOWN SPORTS PARK, 7 P.M.
Oct. 6: At Spalding University Golden Eagles (JV), Louisville, 4 p.m.
Oct. 11: At Campbellsville University Tigers (JV), Campbellsville, 3 p.m.
Oct. 14: At Bellarmine University Knights (Club), Louisville, 7 p.m.
Oct. 17: At Asbury University Eagles (JV), Wilmore, 6 p.m.
Oct. 19: At Southern State Community College Patriots (JUCO), Hillsboro, Ohio, 2 p.m.