Men’s soccer team starts season with a bang

Louis Trigg

Following last fall’s regular season championship, the 2011 Coaches Preseason Poll predicts another first-place finish for the UMKC men’s soccer team.

“We enter the season with high expectations, but we understand that this voting reflects on last season’s results,” Head Coach Rick Benben said in a press release.

And if preseason play provides any indication, the team is ready for a prized follow-up.

Shutting out William Jewel College 2-0, it won its first preseason exhibition on Aug. 18, and then delivered a “Battle of the Blue” beat down to the Rockhurst Hawks Sunday night.

Before Sunday’s game, UMKC honored the men’s tennis team with Summit League Championship rings, and also honored other student-athletes who have maintained academic success on campus.

Another regular season championship won’t be easy for the soccer squad.

Western Illinois and Oral Roberts may be able to sabotage a post-season run to the NCAA Tournament.

Players still remember a heartbreaking exit to Oral Roberts University in the Summit League Tournament last year.

Though the Roos enjoyed accolades and a top ranking last year, this year, they hope to carry the regular season wizardry into post-season play.

“Our league improves with each season and the competition will be intense,” Benben added. “We look forward to it, and hopefully we will be ready.”

Maintaining last year’s same energy-driven flair, seven starters have returned from last year’s squad, including first-team All-Summit Jimmy Simon.

The team also welcomes eight new players: Andres Aristizabal, Kevin Corby, Konnor Knoll, Julian Musa, Michael Oakley, Guerrero Pino, Mo Ramahi, Jr. and Jordan Rideout.

Former standout and ’09 alumnus Bryan Perez recently made headlines with a trial invitation to join legendary Chilean professional team Club de Deportes.

Perez is currently the all-time leader in goals scored, shots taken, points and games played for UMKC.

It’s an example of the recent influx of high-level talent to the men’s soccer team, which hopes to continue triumphs of that talent.

Regular season action starts when UMKC competes against the University of Nebraska-Omaha’s inaugural team on Friday, Aug. 26.

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