There’s no shortage of candidates for Central Christian College men’s soccer coach Aaron Hoxie to evaluate during the preseason.
Hoxie’s consistent recruiting and retention in the last few years has swelled his roster to 34, though four of those players will be red-shirting.
The Tigers should be as experienced as any team around.
“We've got 11 kids who will be graduating this season,” Hoxie said of his large senior class. “It is hard to pinpoint which particular one of these guys have caught my eye because they are meeting or exceeding my expectations. However, if I was to pick one guy who I am particularly impressed with it’s Jayke Maples. He has largely been a reserve player for the last 2 1/2 seasons, but he has the highest work ethic of any player on the team and he has improved into a viable attacking option for us. I am excited to see how his senior year turns out for him. It will also be a litmus test to see if players develop throughout their time here.”
Hoxie recognized after last season there are still some areas that needed depth and he recruited accordingly.
“This class could be one of the best that we've brought in,” he said. “There is talent all over the place. You can expect to see players like Lucas Braga, Matias Nunez, Facundo Russo, Nonho Kabulo, Reece Stewart and Jamison Lynn all give quality minutes to this senior-heavy team. I've been impressed with the work ethic of all of these freshmen and I believe that they will have really good college careers, even if they don't come out and get a heavy game load. I wish I had minutes for all of these guys, but the great thing is we can ease all of them into the system and get them used to the college pace for next season.”
Tanner Rose and Ethan Craig, both from McPherson, are among those newcomers and Hoxie is high on what they can bring to the team.
The Tigers are coming off a 9-8-2 season, but they’ll be tested by joining the Sooner Athletic Conference, which is especially strong in men’s soccer.
“Originally, I did not think it was a good idea to be jumping into that conference,” Hoxie said. “There were many reasons why, but the majority of those reasons have been addressed within administration and we are all set to get after it now. Ultimately, being in the conference will give us a chance to compete with nationally ranked programs (John Brown, Wayland Baptist, and USAO), and not to mention Southwestern Christian, who won the NCCAA D-1 National Championship last year over NCAA D-2 Oklahoma Baptist. The other teams not mentioned are no joke, either. We've never beaten SAGU, Texas Wesleyan, or St. Gregory’s, and they've each had good success with recruiting this year, too. It is going to be very difficult to get results, but we will take the challenges head on.”
The Tigers are hosting Iowa Lakes for an exhibition today before playing for real on Tuesday when they host KCAC member Bethel College.