Glendale Community College Gauchos men's soccer coach Kevin Grub may have lost 10 sophomores from last year's team, but GCC got off to a good start in their first scrimmage.
The Gauchos beat Embry Riddle University, 2-1, in Prescott and Grub is looking forward to their season-opening game 4:30 p.m. Aug. 28 at Phoenix College.
"The scrimmage was a very good way to start," he said. "With work ethic and team play (from the scrimmage), that's what we were missing (last year). This year, people have already bought into the team system."
"This is my fourth year and this is by far the hardest working team I have." -- GCC Men's Soccer Coach Kevin Grub
With 19 freshmen and 11 sophomores on the GCC roster, the blend of experience and youthful enthusiasm is a help for Grub.
"Sophomore forward Andy Szerlag was consistently in the top 10 in scoring," Grub said. "(After the season) he is looking forward to going back home to Poland and play professional."
The goalkeeper position is one Grub would like to strengthen, and there are four freshmen players - Lars Smajic, Matt Lemanski, Luis Gonzalez and Mike Utter - vying for the position.
"The goalkeeper position for the past five or six years didn't measure up," he said. "Now we have four keepers that are high-class and that's exciting. I've got an all-around team this year and I feel every position is solid, and I don't see any low spots."
In addition to the forward and goalkeeper positions, Grub said freshman midfielder Xavier Rabadon might have a big season.
"He could have a break-out season as a leader," Grub said. "(It may be) on the field and in terms of organizing I've got some really good players.
"We have a common goal of making the (Arizona Community College Athletic Association) playoffs and turning the school around," Grub said. "Everyone expects to beat us because of our past history. Because of that, I think it sets a fire in these guys to change the philosophy."
"This is my fourth year and this is by far the hardest working team I have."
Grub is assisted by Jesse Zambrano, Kevin Mearce and new is psychology coach Eduardo Arambula.
Smajic played goalkeeper for three season at Washington High School where he was an honorable mention goalie in the 4A-II Black Canyon Region for all three years. He was also second team all-state as a junior.
"In high school, the game seemed like it was slower," Smajic said. "In college they emphasize physical fitness a lot more. The way I look at it players (from other teams) talk about good players, but we've got talent and we can challenge anyone in the state."
Lemanski does not want to get too far ahead of himself as the season approaches.
"I want to get a winning record and get to the playoffs," Lemanski said. "It's more like we've got to train hard and play to our potential, and try to keep them (opponents) on their toes. Everyone has to train hard and that's what college (soccer) is about."
Gonzalez was a forward in high school for one season, but he discovered the goalkeeper had a lot to offer.
"A friend of mine injured himself on a club team (1999-2000 season) and I filled in and made some stops," Gonzalez said. "I said ‘This is nice,' and since then I wanted to be a goalkeeper. I just want to prove the qualities (vision, blocks and one-on-one stops) I have that other goalkeepers don't have and learn from my mistakes."
Utter knows the competition will not be easy, but he is giving it his best as should everyone else.
"It's going to take hard work from all of us," Utter said. "You don't get to slack off at all and we like it that way. If they (the opposing team) come out expecting an easy victory, it makes it that much easier for us."
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