The men’s soccer team has finished the season at 9-5-3; and while their record wasn’t sufficient to qualify for the playoffs, they vastly improved from last year.
If you would have asked head coach Phil Wolf if this was a better result than last season—the answer would have been that this year has been part of a bigger process to improve the team in the future seasons.
“I think overall, the success can be attributed to continuing to improve as a program year by year,” said Wolf via email. “In year four of this project to make us one of the top Division II programs in the country, we have more quality in our team and more closer than ever to reaching our goals.”
The 2014 season was a rough stretch for the Sea Lions—especially during start of the season, as they posted a 6-10-2 overall record after going 0-7-1 during the first eight games. During that losing-stint, Sea Lions scored 21 points, which put them at the ninth lowest scoring team out of 13 schools in the PacWest conference.
Another noticeable improvement has been on the offensive side of the field. After averaging fewer than 11 shots-on-goal per game last season, the Sea Lions have increased this average by 21 percent—a sign that they have been able to move the ball within striking distance more often around the goal.
Senior Daniel ten Bosch –who is currently third on the team in goals and shots-on-goal with four and 16- said Wolf significantly altered the roster last season by recruiting international talent which helped contribute to the considerable improvement from last year.
“The difference has been in our players; we have a lot of players that we didn’t have last year,” said ten Bosch. “Namely like Patrice Glaser, Manu Montal, Andrew Ritchie, Lewis Grant—these four foreigners that weren’t on our starting lineup before -they bring a lot of experience and knowledge about the game. And the way that our coach likes to play is a very European (style). So it helps to have them on the team and it’s been a huge difference-maker for us.”
Montal –a senior from Gijou, Spain- has been one of the many foreign players who have contributed to the resurgence of the men’s soccer program. He is tied for first with five goals –with junior Nico Tagaloa- while leading the team with a shot percentage of 27.8.
Despite the recent success, Montal said the team has even greater potential moving forward.
“Personally, I am not happy at all with our record, I believe my coach and teammates back up my opinion as well,” said Montal via email. “There is no team over the season that played better than us. We dominated all the games as we played better soccer than them, but overall we struggled too much when facing the goal. Also we had too many injuries that held the team back as we progressed, but I think this team has the potential to be one of the best in the nation.”
The Sea Lions closed out their season with a fourth-place finish in the PacWest after beating Holy Names University, 2-0 in Oakland.