Men’s soccer begins quest for RRAC title today

The OLLU men’s soccer team begins the season at home today against NCAA D3 Texas Lutheran University and will be aiming for a Red River Athletic Conference (RRAC) title. The team features a large incoming freshmen class and will be led by a new staff.

Coaching staff
Head Coach Shane Hurley is back at the helm after coaching the Saints from 2007-2020. Hurley posted a .607 conference winning percentage and achieved two regular-season championships. Assistant Coach Jesus Cortes was hired in July and has an array of experience in the soccer world. Hurley commented, “Jesus was a tremendous player at the University of the Incarnate Word. His addition to the staff will bring a ton of energy and he has great relationships with the student athletes.”

Preseason rankings
The Saints finished last season with a 2-11-3 overall record and 2-7-2 mark in conference. The team expects to improve upon last year and return to the postseason in 2023.

LSU-Shreveport (LSUS) has been picked to repeat as champions in the 2023 RRAC Men’s Soccer Preseason Poll. Louisiana Christian University (LCU) was voted second, followed by the University of Houston-Victoria (UHV) in third, LSU-Alexandria (LSUA) in fourth, Texas A&M University-San Antonio (TAMUSA) in fifth, Huston-Tillotson University (HTU) in sixth, Texas A&M University-Texarkana (TAMUT) in seventh, the University of the Southwest (USW) in eighth, Paul Quinn College (PQC) in ninth and OLLU in 10th. Jarvis Christian University (JCU) is predicted to finish 11th, with Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA) following in 12th, North American University (NAU) at 13th and Texas College (TC) in 14th.  

Schedule overview (Numbers after school indicate all-time records.)
The Saints will play three scrimmages before starting the regular season. They battle NCAA D3 Texas Lutheran University at home today, and will play at NCAA D3 Trinity University and NCAA D2 Texas A&M International University (0-0-1) on Aug. 24 and Aug. 26.

The non-conference schedule begins with a match at Oklahoma City University (2-4-2) on Sept. 2. OLLU will remain in Oklahoma to battle the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma (2-4) on Sept. 4 and will host Wayland Baptist University (1-5-1) on Sept. 9.

Conference opponents
The first conference matches are against LSUS (6-5) and TAMUT (8-1) on Sept. 14 and Sept. 16. OLLU travels north to face TC (11-2-1) on Sept. 21 and JCU (9-0) on Sept. 23. They return home to play USW (11-7-1) on Sept. 28 and PQC (3-1-2) on Sept. 30.

The October schedule starts with a rivalry against local TAMUSA (1-1) on the road on Oct. 7. The Saints host XULA on Oct. 12 and NAU on Oct. 14. The squad goes to Louisiana to face LSUA (2-7-4) on Oct. 19 and LCU (1-1) on Oct. 21. The final home match before the postseason tournament is against UHV (8-8-2) on Oct. 26. They finish regular season play in Austin, Texas, against HTU (8-9-2) on Oct. 28.

Senior class
Five seniors will guide the Saints this year. Randy Dominguez, Javier Pena, Tim Talabi, Samuel Villegas and Christopher Zepeda will provide experience and leadership. Pena was awarded RRAC Defensive Player of the Week last season.

Six juniors highlight the upperclassmen group. Matthew Banda, Sagesse Gutsa, Michael Huff, Adrian Maldonado, Thomas Sauceda and Victor Villegas make up the class. The 11 sophomores include two fresh faces. Jordan Betterton joins the team after playing at Samuel Clemens High School in Schertz, Texas. David Rjasko arrives in San Antonio from Richard King High School in Corpus Christi, Texas. The remaining sophomores are Harry Acklam, Alejandro Avila, Cristian Govea Mireles, Pape Gueye, Abraham Lincon, Diego Rodriguez, Cade Ryan, Stephen Volpe and Karson Webb.

The Saints have a massive incoming freshmen class. The staff recruited 14 players that include Baden Arrieta, Juan Aviles, Kaylan Baptiste, Jose Becerra, Jose Camacho, Stan Driessen, Emiliano Espinoza, Josue Martinez, Nicolas Murgas, Louis Nicholson, Anthony Ordonez, Dominic Pena, Nikola Saltchev and Rudy Vega.

Live-streaming and fan experience
The Saints home matches will be live streamed at Fans can expect a great atmosphere with a video scoreboard that will feature player introductions, goal scoring celebrations and more.