Aug. 20, 2013
GALESBURG—Carl Sandburg College men’s soccer coach Allen Eskridge learned a lot about restarting a program from scratch.
“It takes a whole lot of hard work to have a winning program,” the second-year Chargers coach said. “We had a whole lot of highs and a whole lot of lows last year. I’m hoping we can be a lot more consistent and smart about the way we play our game.”
Sandburg finished 5-5-1 overall and 4-3-1 in division play last season as the program was revived after a one-year hiatus. Coming off by far the best season in school history, the Chargers aren’t satisfied with a winning record. They have bigger goals in mind.
“This year I expect that we should be able to win every game that we play,” Eskridge said. “We have better competition this year than we did last year, but we have a deeper team, more talented players. I don’t see any reason why every time we step on the pitch we don’t have a chance to win.”
Sandburg returns 10 players from last year’s team while adding 17 newcomers. All told, the Chargers have players who hail from seven states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Texas and Wisconsin) and four countries outside the U.S. (Cameroon, Cayman Islands, Congo and England). How do players from so far apart come together so quickly?
“Beautifully,” Eskridge said. “Everybody is on an even playing field, and I expect big things from all of them. Most of the players we have coming back are more defensive, so most of the recruits we have coming in are more offensive. They’re coming together very nicely.”
Eskridge pointed to returning sophomores Connor Benson (LaCrosse, Wis./Central), John Fletcher Molchin (Mapleton, Ill./Illini Bluffs) and Gustavo Sarmiento (Miami, Fla./Hialeah-Miami Lakes) as big components to the Chargers’ defense.
“Those three guys, I expect to be leaders on our team and really hold down our back line,” Eskridge said.
Kentucky transfer Lawson Crider (Mayfield, Ky./Shattuck St. Mary’s), Jake Kirchoff-Sleet (Tamworth, England/Queen Elizabeth’s Mercian) and Brandyn Murray (George Town, Cayman Islands) are among the newcomers on what figures to be a high-powered Sandburg attack.
“The sky’s the limit for these guys,” Eskridge said. “They’re talented, they’re smart, they’re very experienced soccer players who are working hard for each other. I expect us to have a very good chance to win our side of the division in the regular season.”
And there could be a chance for much more after that for Sandburg, which opens the season at 4 p.m. Friday against Prairie State at the Knox County YMCA.
“This year we have more talent, more depth on the bench and we’re going to try to make it the best season possible,” Sarmiento said. “Last year was kind of like we got everyone unexpectedly. We want to give everyone a bigger surprise than we did last year.”
Members of the 2013 Carl Sandburg College men’s soccer team are: Haggi Amirally, Chino Ayala, Jesse Bathelt, Connor Benson, Matt Connors, Lawson Crider, Francis Fiemawhle, Malcolm Findley, Manfred Gonzalez, Brenden Guthrie, Robert Hamrick, Jake Hannam, David Hernandez, Collin Jeffcoat, Jalen Jones, Jake Kirchoff-Sleet, Joel Kouakou, John Fletcher Molchin, Martin Morales, Brandyn Murray, Nicodeme Ngampe, Sebastian Ramirez, Gustavo Sarmiento, Nitram Senderos, Diego Suarez, Caleb Tierney, Carlos Viganoni. Head coach: Allen Eskridge.
Carl Sandburg College men's soccer player Gustavo Sarmiento dribbles the ball during a preseason practice. The Chargers open their regular season Aug. 23 against Prairie State at the Knox County YMCA.