Men's Soccer Gets 6:30 a.m. Jump On First Day Of Practice
SPOKANE, Wash. - Gonzaga University's men's soccer team got an early start on practice as preparations began Wednesday leading up to the Aug. 24 season opener at the University of Washington.
Fourteen newcomers and 17 returnees greeted head coach Einar Thorarinsson when the squad assembled for the first time at 6:30 a.m., and the 17th year head coach liked what he saw.
"I'm optimist about the new guys, and the returning players came back in good shape," Thorarinsson said at the conclusion of two morning practice and conditioning sessions. "And everybody is healthy."
Although hesitant to point out specific players, Thorarinsson said freshmen forwards Jesus Gonzalez out of St. Thomas Aquinas in Weston, Fla., and Connor Bevans from La Habra, Calif., who attended Service High in Anaheim, Calif., and sophomore transfer midfielder Lars Ludwigs from Woellstein, Germany, got his attention.
"Overall, the guys I expected to come in ready did so," Thorarinsson said. "Jesus is calm and has good skills on the ball, while Lars is very experienced and I like the way he plays. Connor seems to be a guy that goes to the goal very easily and finds the net. He may score some goals for us this year."
Among the returnees are sophomore Clark Phillips who led the team in goals (4), assists (3) and points (11) a year ago. Sophomore forward Nathanael Pacheco and junior midfielder Zach Hammer each scored a pair of goals and had two assists to tie for second in team scoring with 6 points each.
"All the returnees who played significant minutes (last year) are not only healthy, but fit and ready to go," Thorarinsson said of his veterans.
A three-way battle for keeper will be staged by junior Ryan Caballero, redshirt freshman Chris Lowrimore and redshirt sophomore Keane Ellis. Caballero saw action in 17 matches a year ago, posting a 1.64 GAA, while Ellis suffered a broken leg in a pickup game a week prior to camp starting and sat out a second straight season after redshirting as a freshman. Lowrimore redshirted last season.
"They will all be inter-mixed. We won't start deciding until game day and even the first scrimmage we'll play a couple of keepers," Thorarinsson said. "There will be a battle amongst the three of them."
The Bulldogs return to the practice field tonight.
"We're trying to practice at times we can avoid the heat," Thorarinsson said of the early morning and late evening sessions as temperatures continue to hover near or into the 90s, approximately 10 degrees above normal for this time of year.