Fall 2002 Men's Soccer Season Preview

Barons Have High Expectations On Soccer Field

By Terry Gaston

BPC Public Relations

If the Brewton-Parker College men's soccer team experiences success beyond the conference level, it won't come as a surprise to second-year coach Ben Moore and the Barons.

After watching his first team finish as the conference runner-up, Moore is looking for this fall's Barons to challenge defending conference champion and national runner-up Auburn University-Montgomery (Ala.) in the league and NAIA regional levels.

"We have very high expectations," said Moore, whose team finished 6-11-1 last fall but fed off its tough schedule to finish second in the Georgia-Alabama-Carolina Conference tournament.

"We expect to do well. These guys are pretty fired up. They're all focused on what they want to accomplish."

The Barons will begin their mission and another tough regular-season schedule at NCAA Division I Jacksonville University on Friday (Aug. 29), with their home opener Sept. 4 at 4 p.m. against Thomas University.

Brewton-Parker scored victories in its two preseason scrimmages, both at the BPC field. The Barons shut out South Georgia College 2-0 on Aug. 21 and defeated Gordon College 2-1 on Saturday (Aug. 24).

Senior midfielder Stuart Fletcher of Toronto, Ontario, a second-team All-Conference selection last season, scored on a penalty kick against Gordon, and he assisted sophomore midfielder and Vidalia product Jeremy Moore on the game-winning goal.

Fletcher had an assist against South Georgia on a first-half goal by junior center-midfielder Lee Powell of Wales, while junior stopper Jason Ford of Trinidad and Tobago added a second-half goal off a free kick.

Coach Moore eyes a schedule that includes two of the top 20 teams from the NAIA preseason national rankings, including No. 2 Auburn-Montgomery and its 2001record of 23-3. The Senators were upended in the national championship game by Lindsey Wilson (Ky.), which is rated No. 1.

Moore projects a starting lineup composed of two seniors, five juniors and four sophomores, but four of the eight returnees are sophomores - two of which are returning starters.

"We look young on paper, but not on experience," Moore said. "I think a lot of the younger guys are mostly experienced, especially the sophomores. We started a bunch of freshmen last year, and I foresee only one freshman starting this year."

That freshman, left-midfielder Caleb Jones of Augusta, Ga., looks to join two senior returning starters on the first team in Fletcher and striker Cristian Muller of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Mario Cruz, a returning senior defender/sweeper from Pereira, Colombia, who made the GACC's All-Academic team last fall, completes the Barons' senior trio.

Other attackers eyeing starting spots include returning starter Federico Arri-Gonzalo, a junior defender from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and four juniors who would be first-time starters: right-midfielder Juan Castellanos of Bogota, Colombia; stopper Jason Ford of Trinidad and Tobago; striker Wes Kendrick of Augusta; and Powell.

Sophomore goalkeeper Ryan Dees of Monroe, La., returns, along with a pair of Colombia natives listed as other probable starters: left defender Juan Pablo Gomez of Pereira and sweeper Juan Pablo Henao of Medellin.

Midfielder Wes Aspinwall of Savannah, Ga., who saw starting time as a freshman, leads the Barons' other sophomores. Two other returning sophomores are Jeremy Moore and defender Justin Rushin of Augusta.

Sophomore Oscar Rodriguez of Santa Cruz, Colombia, and freshman Kyle Jones of Augusta are reserve goalkeepers.

Other freshmen included are: defender Jake Paden of Atlanta, striker Jon Paden of Atlanta, midfielder Moises Sanchez of Mexico and sweeper Chris Sumner of Fitzgerald, Ga.

"Last year, with such a new team, we struggled with numbers and injuries," Moore said in turning his thoughts to this fall. "We have 21 on the roster, with 19 healthy. They definitely want to do well, and I think we can go as far as possible."

The Barons' ultimate goal would be to be among the 16 teams competing at the NAIA National Tournament in Bowling Green, Ky., on Nov. 21-26.

Such an achievement would require the Barons to finish among the top two teams in the Region XIII Tournament on Oct. 30 and Nov. 1 at Auburn-Montgomery.

"This is probably one of the hardest regions in the NAIA," said Moore, who played on Brewton-Parker's 1996 and '97 squads that made the regional semifinals for the 13-year program's best season finishes. "There are usually four teams in the top 10. It's a tough road."