There are four NJCAA soccer programs in the region that I track, each offering Men’s and Women’s soccer. Let’s take a look at what’s on offer this season, with the STLCC Archer Men’s program grabbing the spotlight.
St. Louis Community College will open the 2017 season ranked twelfth, as the NJCAA released their preseason Men’s Division 1 soccer poll. The Archers are coming off a 2016 season which saw them finish 18-1-2 and captured the Region 16 championship. The team is coached by Tim Mosby, a STLCC and UMSL soccer alum, that has reshaped the team as he enters his fourth season. He is assisted by Matt McVey. More on the team below along with photos from a recent scrimmage with the UMSL Tritons.
The dean of area coaches is Tim Rooney, Coach of the LEWIS & CLARK TRAILBLAZERS (Godfrey) since 1986 on the Men’s side and 1993 on the Women’s side. He’s won two National titles with the Women and has well over 300 wins with both programs. The team, along with Southwestern Illinois (SWIC), plays in Region 24 which is made up of Illinois NJCAA programs. The men’s and women’s team both reached the Regional Finals last year and both lost to Parkland College (in Champaign).
The Trailblazer men have opened 2-0 and travel this weekend. Their next home game is Wednesday September 6th against SWIC in their derby game. They follow that with a visit to STLCC Florissant Valley on Monday September 11th before traveling to Parkland on September 14th. SCHEDULE The roster includes nine area players including former SLSG Academy player and Howell North All-State defender Osvaldo Guerrero and Skylar Funk, an IHSA All-State player at Alton. ROSTER
There are also nine international players on the Trailblazer roster, something I consider an issue in the college game as schools chase wins rather than providing opportunities for area players to continue their careers.
The TRAILBLAZER WOMEN are the only regional team to be ranked in the preseason, coming in at #13 as they look to return to Nationals, last achieved in 2015. They opened the season with a pair of wins and travel to Kansas City for Labor Day weekend. They’ll host SWIC on Thursday and travel to STLCC Meramec on Monday September 11th. SCHEDULE The women’s game still provides plenty of opportunity for local players with eighteen on the ROSTER and only three international players. Megan Pierce, the Class 2 Defensive Player of the Year is joined by her St. Charles West teammate Audrey Andrzejewski, a 1st Team All-State forward as well as Kassidy Louvall from St. Dominic. Taylor Hansen was an Illinois All-Sectional pick out of Edwardsville, who join a team with only five sophomores (ROSTER).
Moving to Belleville, the SWIC BLUE STORM Women’s Soccer program is led by Juergen Huettner, who took over the program in 2014 following five seasons at STLCC Meramec. His ties in the area means his roster is devoid of international players, with only two players from outside the area. Freshman signees include midfielder Bianca Perez and defenders Angel Krausz and Alexandria DeLuca from the very successful Collinsville Kahok program, joined by Ally Jennings from the Zumwalt West Jaguars. On hand are sophomores Skye Clark, a goalkeeper from Triad and Ashleigh Briggs from Granite City. ROSTER
After a trip to Melbourne Florida this weekend to open their season, the women travel to Godfrey on September 7th for their derby game before traveling to St. Charles on September 12th to face the defending Region 16 Champions in Cottleville. SCHEDULE
Larry Petri has been the head coach of the men’s soccer team at SWIC since 1982. He has compiled more than 300 wins as head coach and was elected into the NJCAA Hall of Fame in 2010. The team has lost their first two games of the season and travel to STLCC Florissant Valley Thursday. Petri has a pair of Brazilian’s on his roster but otherwise has concentrated his recruiting on the Illinois side. A sophomore on the roster, Waterloos Kane Osterhage, drew praise in a recruiting report last year.
Missouri Junior Colleges compete in Region 16 of the NJCAA and the Missouri Community College Athletic Conference (MCCAC). There are seven men’s programs and five women’s programs (all listed below) competing in the state.
The STLCC ARCHERS are coming off a 2016 season which saw them finish 18-1-2 and captured the Region 16 championship. They’ve opened the season with three wins, outscoring their opponents 16-2 with one shutout. They host SWIC on Thursday August 31st at 4pm at the Florissant Valley Campus with their next area match coming Thursday September 7th when they play a Regional match at St. Charles. SCHEDULE
The roster is heavily weighted to international players, with 13, and more importantly in the exhibition match I caught against D2 UMSL, only two area players earned minutes as substitutes, Dyan Chapa (#17), a freshman from St. Mary’s and Eric Habonimana (#22) a sophomore from Soldan, from what I captured. On the bench is Scott Caraway, an All-State goalkeeper from Lafayette who was also recognized as a Future All-Star by the St. Louis Soccer HOF last October, along with players from Parkway West, Parkway South, Oakville and Marquette among others.
The STLCC ARCHER WOMEN, who are based at Meramec, are coached by Jason Howard who is in his second year after assisting prior to that. An alum of both Lewis & Clark as well as Fontbonne, he’s familiar with the league and is a regular fixture on the sidelines locally in his recruiting efforts. He added eight players for this season, including forward Grace vanHoornbeek from Bolivar, midfielder Kate Ohler from Lindbergh and GK Libby Modde from Rosati-Kain. He has a pair of internationals on the roster, with defender Chloe Bowen and forward Ellie Wallace from the UK. (ROSTER)
The season opened with an overtime loss to Allen County (KS) and continues this weekend with a pair of games in Melbourne, Florida the site of this year’s national tournament. The next home game is Monday September 11 against Lewis & Clark, while the Regional matches are all in October (SCHEDULE)
The ST. CHARLES CC COUGAR WOMEN are the two-time defending Region 16 Champions, but lost to Parkland and Lewis & Clark in the District playoff the last two seasons. They have a new Head Coach in Jason Wyland, who moves up from his assistants role as Josh Tyler has moved over to work as an assistant at UMSL. Wyland also heads up the AFA Fillies, winning the U18 Missouri State title last year over FCKC with a group that returns relatively intact since they were playing up. I can’t tell you much about the roster since it hasn’t been updated yet. The season opens this weekend in Champaign against Parkland, the team that ended their season last November. They’ll open their home season against Missouri Valley (an NAIA school, likely the JV squad is visiting) on Thursday September 7th and then host SWIC on September 12. (SCHEDULE)
The ST CHARLES COUGAR MEN also have a new Head Coach this year as William Lancaster takes over for Chris Alberty who is the new Men’s Head Coach at Fontbonne. Can’t effectively discuss the roster here either as it is not current with players like Jessie Messerly and Trey Michler still listed as freshmen. The season has opened but only one game has results (of three). The team will next play at home when STLCC visits on September 7th and that will be followed by SWIC on September 12th. SCHEDULE
UPDATE – I offered a comment earlier noting the increasing numbers of international players on the rosters, primarily on the men’s side. It’s not just an issue for JuCo programs, it’s happening across the board. SLU has nine, Missouri State has 15 and a look at the stats shows that the minutes are heavily weighted to those players. Why? Coaches are paid to win. A related aspect that one of the local coaches brought up – the pay-to-play club environment has changed parents and kids expectations. They are all going to go D1 one, right? A lesson that will be learned in the school of hard knocks. So I feel empathy for the Coaches situation as recruiting now is not what it was when I attended Florissant Valley in the mid-70’s, heck it’s not what it was just a decade ago. I watched the Missouri State roster become the unbalanced program it is over the 13 years I’ve been providing coverage in the state. I’m not going to change that but I hope I can show the opportunities to develop and move beyond are there. Witness the College Update two weeks ago on the Lewis & Clark players signing with four year programs. It’s easier to write about kids I have seen come up the ranks but a winning program is also helpful in that regard. Find your path.
September 5 – First Weekly NJCAA National Poll
September 6 – First Weekly NJCAA Player of the Week
October 21, 24 & 28 – Men’s Region 16 Tournament (at higher seed)
October 27-28 – Women’s Region 16 Tournament (St. Charles)
November 1 – Signing day for 2018 class
November 4 – Men & Women’s Central District Championship (at Region 16 v Region 24)
November 13-18 – Men’s NJCAA DI National Championship (Prescott, AZ)
November 13-18 – Women’s NJCAA D1 National Championship (Melbourne, FL)
Men’s Programs: Blue River (KC), Crowder (Neosho), East Central (Union), Jefferson, Maple Woods (KC), St. Charles CC, St. Louis CC
Women’s Programs: MCC-Blue River (KC), St. Louis CC, MCC-Maple Woods (KC), St. Charles CC, State Fair CC (Sedalia)