First-year goalie key to men’s soccer team’s early success

Chico State freshman soccer player Luke Dennison has helped Chico State to a 5-0-1 start on the year. Photo courtesy Chico Wildcats.

It’s not that often that a first-year goalkeeper starts on a college soccer team. It’s even less often when that goalie delivers four shutouts in his first five games.

Meet Luke Dennison.

The first-year starting goalie has allowed just one goal so far on the season, and is a big reason why the Chico State men’s soccer team is 4-0-1 through five games.

During training, Dennison said that he was hoping to be the starting goalie. When he found out, he was really excited.

“I was excited coming into the first game,” Dennison said. “I really was, and I felt I did great but I have to thank the defense for the help they have given me.”

Dennison said the communication that he has had with his teammates on defense, like Mike Janjigian and Justin Walmsley, have helped him adjust to college soccer.

Janjigian said the Dennison’s plays at goalie this year could potentially be some of the best since he has been a Wildcat.

“I think our goalkeeping potentially could be the best talent since I have been at Chico,” Janjigian said. “He’s done extremely well so far this season. One of the ways I try to help Dennison is when he needs to be louder but other than that our goalkeepers have been pretty good so far.”

Junior forward Matt Hurlow said he’s quickly grown accustomed to how Dennison plays once the season began.

“He’s came out every single game, and he’s proven himself to be a good starter as well as make some great saves in the first few games,” Hurlow said.

Assistant coach Zach Bradford said he thinks the veteran presence on defense is helping the young goalie.

“Janjigian, Walmsley, Sean Gallagher and even another first-year Sasha Peranteau are all playing great, and they are all not letting other teams get any really good chances,” he said.

Dennison said that Walmsley has pumped him up at some points during games and really has shown him what a great leader is, along with Janjigian.

“Walmsley has had a few times where he has really pumped me up, got me more intense and into the game,” he said.

Dennison said he’s had a great off the field relationship with his defenders that has helped a great deal with his team chemistry.

“Those guys have helped me get used to life in Chico and on the soccer field,” Dennison said. “Jig’s (Janjigian) was kind of shy at first but he has really been a fun guy.”

Dennison said he’s optimistic of the future, unfazed by Chico State’s ranking as the No. 5 Division II team in the nation.

So far on the season, Dennison has 14 saves in five games and a 0.993 save percentage.

“We’ve got to keep improving to try to get that No. 1 spot,” he said.

Chance Keenan can be reached a [email protected] or @chancelikelance on Twitter.