The Tabor College men’s soccer team will field new faces this year as the Bluejays look to improve on last year’s sixth-place KCAC finish.
Tabor went 5-5-1 in conference play a year ago and ended the season with an record of 7-10-1. Oklahoma Wesleyan won the title with an 11-0 record.
Heading into this season, five of 12 athletes on the KCAC 2017 preseason team are from Oklahoma Wesleyan, which topped the KCAC preseason coaches’ poll and enters the season ranked sixth nationally.
Tabor is not represented on the preseason team, and is picked seventh in the preseason poll.
Tabor will play without three of its four 2016 All-KCAC honorees this year, including second team All-KCAC forward Bransyn Felty, who led the team in goals (10), shots (55) and shots on goal (27) last season.
The Bluejays also will be without honorable-mention All-KCAC forward Agustin Ariza, who yook 16 shots and scored five goals on nine shots on goal.
Additionally, Tabor will play without honorable-mention All-KCAC midfielder Drew Janzen.
But six key returners will anchor the team.
That list begins with honorable-mention All-KCAC senior defender Quentin Francis.
Returner Oscar Moyano, a junior, will contribute at the forward position. He scored two goals and recorded 20 shots, including nine shots on goal.
Returning in the midfield are seniors Robert Talamantez and Matthew Robinson.
Defender Lewis Furmenger, a junior, is recovering from injury.
Junior goalkeeper Derrick Eszlinger played in 13 games last year, allowing 22 goals and recording 63 saves.
“The team is coming together well with many new faces looking to contribute significantly,” said 11th-year coach Grant Brubacher. “We will have a new back line due to graduation, and Lewis Furmenger still rehabbing an ACL tear. Our attack will also be largely new after the loss of our all-time leading goal-scorer, Bransyn Felty.
“We will look to our returning starters to provide stability and consistency as we integrate the new faces. Our team chemistry has been strong so far this fall, and if we continue to learn, we have a chance to be a quality team.”
Tabor opened the 2017 season with a 3-2 loss to Avila. Tabor will host Science and Arts of Oklahoma at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 6.