MITCHELL, S.D. – The 2018 Dakota Wesleyan University men's soccer team brings in talented new faces to the program as second year head coach Jose Lopez continues to build the men's soccer program.
Last season, DWU finished 4-13 overall with a record of 1-8 in the Great Plains Athletic Conference. The Tigers will rely on four experienced seniors and a boost of newcomers to help lead the program throughout the 2018 season.
"We have a strong core of returners on the team that know what the expectations are on and off the field," Lopez said. "All newcomers have the same mindset, they are ready to work, learn and most important listen. I believe that with time the guys will come together."
The Tigers lost two key players from last year's squad, as Connor Dodds and Derek Brenner were named to the 2017 All-GPAC Honorable Mention Team. However, senior goalkeeper Gaston Miteff will return for his fourth season with the DWU soccer team and was also named to the 2017 All-GPAC Honorable Mention Team. Miteff played in 16 of the 17 games last year posting 96 saves for the Tigers and will once again be heavily relied on this season.
John Sutherland will be entering his fourth season for the Tigers and will provide stability in the Tiger midfield after moving positions from defense last season. Sutherland started all 17 games last season. Along with Miteff and Sutherland, Rene Montiel, and Tea, S.D., native Cooper Hansen will look to lead the newcomers as the season goes on.
"Our seniors are playing a huge role by setting the expectations and making sure no one goes off on a different route," Lopez commented. "They are doing a ton of work behind the scene and we are proud of them."
There will also be many new faces for the Tigers, as 17 newcomers join the Tiger roster. Lopez will be looking for some players to step up and be an immediate impact on the field.
"We have several players coming in that I'm excited to see what they can do," Lopez stated. "Julian Mole, Oscar Molina, Andrew Browning, Cesar Tabares and Pedro Lopez have the potential to be key players. We will let time tell us who will step up."
The Tigers kicked off the season with an exhibition match against NCAA Division II opponent University of Mary from Bismark, N.D. Although DWU lost the match 3-0, Lopez believes his team got better from that game.
"University of Mary is a good program and they helped me answer some questions I had, Lopez said. "I saw some freshmen step up and some returners come out of their shell. Overall a good day, despite the result."
DWU will open up GPAC play on Sept. 19 at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa. The GPAC home schedule will start on Sept. 22 when the Tigers host Midland University for a 6:30 p.m. game. DWU will host its annual Cancer Awareness Night Oct. 17 against Northwestern College, while Senior Day will take place on Oct. 27 when DWU takes on Morningside College. Lopez knows how good the GPAC as he looks to make a run to the conference tournament.
"We are adding two institutions to our conference which I think is a great thing, Lopez said of the conference. "As always, we will face some tough opponents, but I expect the lads to come together. The expectation is to have a good run during our conference play and make the GPAC tournament."
The Tigers kick off the 2018 season against Waldorf University at 5 p.m. today in Forest City, Iowa.