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Patriot soccer seasons open at home Saturday

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By The Staff

SCC Sports Information

Even with a super-difficult schedule that includes a tough Mid-South Conference slate, St. Catharine College soccer coach Paul Patton looks for continued improvement this season for both the Patriot men and women.

“Since my tenure began in 2006 the schedule has become more difficult each year,” said Patton who will be starting his fourth season as head coach of both programs. “Despite that, the men’s team record has improved each year and the women improved tremendously from 2006 to 2007 with only a slight step back in 2008.”

Patriot Men

Patton said his off-season recruiting brought in players that should make a difference right away this season. He said, “We needed to fill several defensive positions to increase speed and skill, but size as well. The midfield seemed to be our strength last year but we still were able to recruit several midfielders and quality forwards.”

Their first venture as a four-year program saw the Patriots finish at 6-11 last year. The move to a NAIA program means that this team will have seniors for the first time, which Patton sees as an advantage. Will Meza, one of four seniors on the team, and Patrick Williams, a junior, are “very strong players and captains of last year’s team,” said Patton. “Will Johnston (a junior) returns as goalkeeper and was also a captain last year. Jonathan Engstrom was a starter and a very strong player s a freshman in 2007 but sat out last year with a knee injury.”

While Patton counts on experience as a positive factor, he also cites the fact that his team as a whole is still very young. “Approximately half of our players are freshmen. And couple that with the fact that they are all traditional age, 18 or 19, and that may work against us. Many of the teams we play recruit significantly older foreign nationals for their teams.”

Patriot Women

The SCC women’s team had to fill several positions from last year’s team that finished at 5-12. But, just as he did with the men, Patton was able to recruit players that he believes will fill the voids.

“With several players departing from last season we had many spots to fill,” he said. “”But this is the best and largest recruiting class we’ve had since I’ve been here.”

That translates, Patton added, to a much stronger, faster and more mobile midfield. Along with that the Patriot mentor said there will be much more team speed and depth.

Again, however, as with the men, Patton says the team’s youth could be a downside to the 2009 Patriots. “We only have two seniors and our freshman class makes up over half the team. We could very well start as many as eight freshmen.”

Danielle Mistler, one of two seniors along with Nicole Emberg, will return after hauling in team MVP honors in all three years she has played. “She is a strong player as is Sally Mattingly (a sophomore) who had a good year on defense,” added Patton. “Lee Ann Walker returns at goalkeeper with experience last year as a freshman. “

Patton will again be assisted this year by Paul Brooks who will be men’s reserve coach and goalkeeper coach. Michelle Carson will be the women’s reserve coach and. “I am very excited to have both of them back this year and I’m also excited about the addition of Mike Montgomery to our staff as athletic trainer.”

Both the Patriot men and women open the season Saturday at home against Kentucky Christian. The women begin the action at 2 p.m. followed by the men at 4 p.m.