2002 Men's Soccer
Bluffton hopes experience shines in 2002 seasonBy Greg Steiner, SID Intern
August 19, 2002
The Bluffton College men's soccer team returns a solid nucleus of experienced players that have seen quite a bit of playing time over the past few seasons. Five seniors and eight juniors are ready to help the Beavers rearrange the Heartland Conference standings in 2002.
The Beavers won three of their last five games in 2001 to end the season with a 5-12 overall record (1-5 HCAC). Junior Diego Rodriguez was honored for the second straight year when he was named First Team All-HCAC. As a forward Rodriguez ranked among the team leaders in scoring with four goals scored which ranked second on the team, and nine total points, which ranked third. In 2000, Rodriguez collected eight goals and 18 total points as he led the Beavers in scoring as a freshman.
"Diego is our most talented and best all-around player," said head coach Randy Keeler. "This spring he played excellent defense, and if he keeps it up he will be our key playmaker."
Rodriguez will be joined by sophomore Casper Agyeman-Duah, who played in 16 games for Bluffton on the campaign and collected five goals and three assists for a team-high 13 points. Among Keeler's recruiting class, he feels that the quality is abundant rather than quantity
Keeler, who enters his tenth season in charge for the men's program, will have to find someone to replace midfielder Mark Stutzman, who graduated. Stutzman put together another excellent year in 2001, finishing the season with three goals and a team leading five assists which ranked fifth in the HCAC. "Most of the freshman saw playing time during last season," said Keeler, "so hopefully they can step in and help along with the incoming group of kids and fill those holes."
"How well the defense comes together will be the key will determine how we play this year," Keeler mentioned. Last season BC allowed three or more goals in 11 of the 17 games. "One of the team's strengths will be its overall speed, it will have to be used to our advantage for us to get better," Keeler remarked.
Bluffton will open the campaign on the road at the Manchester Invitational on Friday, August 30 against Moody Bible Institute. BC will open up the home portion of its schedule on September 3 when they host Defiance.