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Men’s soccer kicks off

Kenta Mcafee

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Chico State’s soccer team is ready for the 2015 season. Photo credit: Allisun Coote

As soccer season approaches, Chico State fans are buzzing with excitement at the new faces they’ll see on the field.

The Wildcats welcomed forward Rajaee DeLane, a transfer student from De Anza College, to the team as well as Jesus Ramos, from Juarez, Mexico. While the men’s soccer team has gained many new recruits, it has also lost key veteran players, including Michael Janjiqian, Malcolm Ekeruche and Joachim Gasmi.

Head coach Felipe Restrepo stated, “We have a great bunch of kids coming in, but that also means we have great players leaving us as well. While they’ll be missed on the team, we have the players to succeed in their place.”

Coach Felipe Restrepo compared the team this year to that of the Wildcats 2013 season— “The 2013 team was one of the best in Chico State’s soccer history. After that year, we lost 13 seniors, which made us put a lot of pressure on the new players coming in. Our team in 2014 had built the chemistry and had the heart, but we still needed the experience.”

Defensive player Justin Walmsley has great confidence in the upcoming season. “I feel like this will be one of our best seasons. Our freshman players are reaching their peak, and we’re exceeding our level.”

Walmsley also believes the team chemistry has improved drastically from last year.

Midfielder Russell Ellyson was shocked by the progress of the players on the team. “We’ve come a long way for sure. Last season we had to learn a lot of lessons the hard way.”

Ellyson also mentioned the new learning opportunities for the team this year. “This time our older guys can teach our newer players, and they won’t have to gain all the knowledge firsthand. They’ll know more.”

Coming off a successful 2014 season with an overall record of 8 wins, 6 ties and 3 losses, the team had a conference record of 3-6-2 at the end of the year. Chico State had a lower shot percentage than their opponents, averaging .359 percent compared to their opponents at .402 percent.

Despite having a lower shot percentage, one major contributor to the three wins is the average number of shots Chico took per game over its opponent, taking 12 shots per game as opposed to the opponents’ average of 10. The offensive tactic implemented by Chico succeeded, as the average goals they scored per game was 1.19, in comparison to the opponents’ average of .83.

Along with taking shots, the Wildcats had an impressive 15 assists over the course of the 2014 season. The great offensive strategy and teamwork of the players lead to the soccer team scoring a total of 20 points last season.

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Head coach Felipe Restrepo.

“I feel good about it. The team has great chemistry which is on another level. We’re eager, excited and sharp,” Restrepo said. “Last year we had a great bunch of new kids who were being rotated into the game, and by developing experience in the off-season, we’re achieving a new level of play as leadership among the team rises.”

While hopeful, the team has certainly put in the effort to become a stronger unit.

Chico State’s first game will be away on September 5 against Seattle Pacific University at 7 p.m. Coach Restrepo encourages all Chico State students to attend as many home games as possible, with the season kicking off on September 18 at 7 p.m.

Kenta McAfee can be reached at [email protected] or @Kentamcafee on Twitter.

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Men’s soccer kicks off