Head coach Ron Horn preivews the 2014 men's soccer season.
While many would look at the 2013 season and see a 7-10 record as a disappointment, the Berea College men's soccer team sees something much different. Last year's seven wins marks the most wins for the program in over a decade and sets the bar high for this season. Coach Ron Horn will enter his fourth season in "Berea Blue" and is looking for big things in 2014.
"We have gone from having only a few players with a competitive background in playing soccer three years ago to having the majority of our team with organized, competitive soccer experience prior to coming to Berea," says Coach Horn. "For the first time in three years, we will have a roster with more than half our roster as upperclassmen".
Leading that experience will be two All-Conference selections in senior forward Storie Ratcliff and sophomore goalkeeper Matt Nelson; but the leadership doesn't end there. Ratcliff will serve as a co-captain along with fellow senior Josh Wedding. Another big reason for Coach Horn's optimism is the return of junior Jessie Massuccuo, who led the Mountaineers in every offensive category last season. But Massucco is just the beginning of the offensive optimism for Coach Horn as he returns his top five scorers.
"Josh shows outstanding initiative, always having the courage to make decisions and take actions that are all in the best interest of the team, and has served as a captain of the team since his freshman year," says Coach Horn. "No one works harder and brings the level of intensity that Storie does. His teammates can learn from his attitude and efforts to succeed," Coach Horn added. "Jesse is a quiet leader, but an excellent model of leadership by example. He lets his play do the talking, consistently performing at a high level every day at training and in the games, regardless of the opponent or circumstances."
The Mountaineers only lost one starter from last year's team. With all the experience returning, an infusion of talent is being added to the team in the form of transfers Henok Kebede (Stone Mountain, GA/Georgia Perimeter College) and Rafael Mendoza (Phoenix, AZ/Paradise Valley Community College), freshmen Garrison Wagner (Benton, KY/Marshall Co High School), Josh Bowman (Wilmore, KY/East Jessamine High School) and Tyler Conley (Berea, KY/Madison Southern High School), Coach Horn has reason to be excited and confident about the new members of the team. "Our newcomers will significantly improve our talent pool and will challenge right away to fill key spots on the pitch," Coach Horn said.
Rubem Rodriguez (Sao Paulo, Brazil) a recent graduate from the University of the Cumberlands will join the staff as an assistant coach. Rodriguez played three years with the Patriots and earned a bachelor's degree in Fitness and Sports Management as well as a minor in Exercise Science. Prior to his arrival in Kentucky, he played at Faculdades Metropolitanas Unidas, a private university in Sao Paulo. As a younger player, Rodriguez played for Brazilian soccer club A. D. Sao Caetano and Mexican soccer club Nacional A.C. While in Kentucky, Rodriguez has earned his United States Soccer Federation "E" Coaching License and served as a coach with the Kentucky Rush Soccer Club. "Rubem comes highly recommended with a reputation as a tireless worker on and off the field who demonstrates great leadership and a passion for soccer and development of players. We look forward to him having a positive impact on our program", expressed Coach Horn.
This year's schedule will reflect Berea's transition to memberships in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III and the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) and feature four NCAA Division III opponents. Three of those opponents come from the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference: Transylvania University and Hanover College in the Transylvania Showcase to kick-off the regular season and Mount Saint Joseph University. The other NCAA Division III opponent will be Spalding University, a rising program in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The schedule the Mountaineers will face this year will present opportunities for growth and competition. "This year's schedule should provide us the right mix to keep developing our play and strong enough to gives us a shot at earning a spot in post season play," Coach Horn stated. "With the leadership and experience we have developed our goal this season will be to earn a spot in the USCAA National Championship".