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Saturday, February 27, 2021

Men’s soccer kicking into high gear

The Western men’s soccer team had an outstanding 2016 season, finishing second in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. With the 2017 campaign about to kick off, Western is shooting to win the GNAC championship.

The men’s soccer team ended the 2016 season with a 6-3-3 conference record, finishing in a tie for second with Northwest Nazarene University.

Last season, Western was able to accomplish its first ever NCAA Division II Tournament berth as the No. 6 seed in the West Region.  The Vikings also accomplished their first-ever NCAA Division II Tournament win in a 3-2 overtime victory against No. 3 seed Dixie State University in the opening round.

Head coach Greg Brisbon said he was happy overall with last year’s season.

“We had a strong finish and we feel we can overcome the mistakes we made early last season this upcoming fall.”

Greg Bribson, men’s soccer head coach

“We had a strong finish and we feel we can overcome the mistakes we made early last season this upcoming fall,” Brisbon said.

For sophomore midfielder and defender Jeremiah Lee, tying for second was a good accomplishment, but this year their goal is set on winning the GNAC.

“Last season was a good season for the program,” Lee said. “We started out pretty well. Things got a little shaky in the middle of the season, but we finished well — winning six of our last seven games. We dealt with the adversity of struggling on away games in the middle, but we battled back as a team and finished with some huge results.”

The Vikings will be returning to the field with seven veteran seniors including Drew Barker, Kyle Danielson, Anthony Dean, Ibra Drame, Luke Olney, Colton Ronk and Tyler Visten.

In addition, Western will be gaining seven incoming freshmen for the 2017 season, including Washington Interscholastic Activities Association Athlete of the Week Ethan Diaz, Scholar Athlete Award winner Tre’ Flowers and All-Region team member Brandon Wolter.

The incoming class is composed entirely of players from Washington, featuring three defenders, two midfielders and two goalkeepers.

Brisbon hopes the new recruits will make a positive impact on the team depending on how quickly each individual adjusts.

“The sooner they are comfortable, the sooner they will play to their potential,” Brisbon said.

Lee believes the new recruits will bring a positive energy and a lot of athleticism this coming year.

“The GNAC is a pretty athletic conference,” Lee said. “And I think [Brisbon] has done a good job bringing in some athletic, talented recruits.”

Despite gaining seven skillful recruits, the Vikings will still be facing a very difficult conference.

Lee, one of the three captains of the team, said their biggest challenge coming into next season will be how they handle adversity.

Senior forward Kyle Danielson moves the ball Friday, April 14 at Harrington Field. // Photo by Dan Thomas

“The core of our team is returning this season and I know we will battle some adversity,” Lee said. “It’s all in how we react. I’m excited for the team this year. We have a solid amount of returning players and some young talent coming in who will hopefully make an immediate impact.”

Heading into the upcoming season, Brisbon’s goals for the team will stay the same. 

“We try and take care of the little things, develop as individuals on and off the field, develop as a team every week, learn from our mistakes and grow as a team. And if we do those things the results will come of it,” Brisbon said.

Lee said his goal for the team is to get better every day.

“We are all going to make mistakes, but it’s how we respond to those mistakes,” Lee said. “We can either learn from them and work hard for each other, or dwell on mistakes. I know that this group of guys wants to work hard for each other and pick each other up when mistakes are made.”

The Vikings open their season at home playing against Sonoma State University on Aug. 31.

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