Men’s soccer picked to finish 12th in pre-season rankings

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Dixie State University men’s soccer team were only able to win two games last season from a lack of goal scoring.

DSU’s soccer team was able to assure the public of a positive attitude going forward at the DSU media day on Aug 21.

The team was held to just two wins in the 2013 season (2-11-3) and finished 12th in the conference of 14 teams. The 2014 pre-season rankings came out with it finishing in the same spot.

“I wasn’t surprised by the ranking,”said head coach Danny Ortiz “Basically, it’s just a guess by what people see in previous seasons. People think we are a bad team, but we have proven that if we score some more goals then we can win some more games.”

The lack of wins in the past few seasons is the main reason for the negative perception of the team, said Ortiz.

During the media day, Ortiz said the team was in the top three of the Pacific West Conference in every offensive category except goals. DSU scored only 22 goals averaging 1.40 each game for the season, while it gave up 33 and an average of 2.20 each game.

Recruiting brought in some offensive players to bolster the attack of the Red Storm.

“We brought in some junior college talent and some new freshmen that we are excited about,” Ortiz said. “That has been our focus, to get more ball movement in the final third and getting the ball in the back of the net.”

Bernard Manuel, a junior from Ghana, West Africa, transferred from Western Wyoming Community College. KCSG reported that he led his previous team with 11 goals last season. He was also named the NCJAA Division I player of the week twice.

The other transfer, Santiago Alejandro, a junior from Oakley, California, scored eight goals last season for Otero College in Colorado.

The team has some experienced players returning such as seniors Erik Shallenberger, Nadav Elimelech, and Dominic Torres. Each of them registered nearly 1,000 minutes of playing time, and Shallenberger led the team in goals scored with four.

“We can only go up from here,” said Shallenberger, a senior business major from Las Vegas. “All of us want to be more focused on playing a complete game since most of our goals came in the final ten to fifteen minutes of games.”

All three senior are moving to the defensive side of the pitch in 2014.

“I am very confident with those guys (Shallenberger, Elimelech, and Torres), and I have seen all three of them train,” Ortiz said. “All three of them will be in the defensive back field this year, so we definitely have some good leadership in the back.”

The 2014 season begins for the Red Storm Sept. 6 at home against Cal Poly Ponoma.

“For us it will be necessary to take it one day at a time and not get too far ahead of ourselves,” Ortiz said. “If we focus each day, the wins and losses will take care of themselves. We just need to focus on getting better every day.”