The State Fair Community College (SFCC) Roadrunners soccer team is busy preparing for the upcoming season that begins on Wednesday, Aug. 14. The Roadrunners open with an exhibition game at 7 p.m. against William Woods University in Fulton. The Roadrunners open the regular season on Thursday, Aug. 22 at Kansas City Kansas Community College. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. The Roadrunners close out the month of August with three road matches.
SFCC fans will have the first opportunity to see their team play in Sedalia at 8 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 1 against North Iowa Area Community College at Clover Dell Park. SFCC will make their official home debut at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 7 when they take on the St. Louis Community College Archers in the Region 16 and Missouri Community College Athletic Conference opener. SFCC will make a second appearance at Clover Dell Park at 8:45 p.m. on Sept. 24 when they take on Metropolitan Community College.
Fans can expect to see a similar style of soccer from the Roadrunners this season, as they have seen in the previous two.
"We want to be solid on defense and be able to counter attack quickly when the opportunity is there," said Roadrunners Head Soccer Coach Jaime Beltran. "When the opportunity is not there, we want to be possession-oriented. We want to have the ball all the time and when we don't have it, we want to work really hard to force turnovers."
SFCC will be led by 17 returnees from last year's team. They will include Sebastian Aguero of Sedalia; Alex Haag and Colton Johannes of Stover; Lucas McEwen of Lee's Summit; Jayson Ross of Rolla; Aaron Latimer of Amarillo, Texas; Irankunda Bosco and John Mlondani of Houston, Texas. Among those sophomores are international players, Sebastian Castro, Bolivia; Cameron Eccles, Mani Hondroudakis, Angelo Salomone and Samuel Sumo, Australia; Eduardo Antunes, Rafael Dragon and Pedro Martins, Brazil; and Jackson Ralph, New Zealand.
"We are asking all of our sophomores to either continue to be leaders or to step into a leadership position," said Beltran. "We are expecting a lot from Jackson Ralph in the backline. He showed a lot of promise last season, now we want him to be more consistent. We are also expecting a lot out of Mani Hondroudakis in the midfield."
The roster also includes 27 newcomers including, Francisco Rojas, Rodrigo Rodriguez, and Landon Naylor of Sedalia. They are joined by Jacob Chapman of Chillicothe; Hayden Ream of Harrisonville; Trenny Herring of LaMonte; Skyler Barber of Odessa; Erick Murillo of Santa Teresa, New Mexico; and Francois Elize, Antoine Kamengele, Mlela (Patrick) Kisinja, Blaise Mucho, and Alexis Rubio of Houston, Texas.
International newcomers include, Jordan Bishop,Australia; Matheus de Navasquez, Leo Fernandez, Vinicius Pie, Breno Grossi and Wagner Simoes, Brazil; Carlos Eguez and Nicholas Olmos, Bolivia; Harrison Broom, Aaron Collins, and Alex Mee, England; Tebello Ntene and Tuabo (Chichi) Shoniwa, Lesotho; and James Nuku, New Zealand.
"We expect our new recruits to contribute," said Beltran. "We bring guys in that we think will add something to the program. We are really excited about Jordan Bishop, a forward from Australia. He is a goal scorer and finisher. Another player that we are excited about is Aaron Collins; he has been captain for his teams in England for a long time. He is a really strong and physical center back. We are going to have a lot of competition in the midfield. Angelo Salomone is a returner that we are expecting a lot from."
The coach expects to this year's squad to be competitive and successful.
"Our first goal is to have a winning season," said Beltran. "We want to finish in the top third of the Region. Winning the region tournament will not be an easy goal by any means, but that is the next step that we need to take and hopefully after that, win one more game and make it to the national tournament."
Beltran sees several keys to accomplishing those goals. The first key being to get the student-athletes to develop chemistry and become a family. The second step is to get his team tactically prepared so that they are on the same page. Coach Beltran also has to learn his team and figure out where each player will fit best within the team.
"It is a learning process for all of us to put the right combination of players on the field and then do the right things to make them successful as a team," said Beltran.