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UIS soccer and its way forward

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Courtesy of UIS Athletics

Courtesy of UIS Athletics

Courtesy of UIS Athletics

Avinash Badeti, Sports Reporter

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The men’s and the women’s soccer teams are stocking up on players for their matchups in the coming season. There has been a rapid increase in the viewership for soccer all over the country and thus teams are getting better and stronger with each passing season.

The UIS Prairie Stars are no different. From finishing 15th in a table of 16 in 2015 to fighting their way into ninth in the following year, the men’s soccer team has impressed many and turned a lot of heads.

Men’s soccer coach Adam Hall said, “When I came in for my first season as coach last year, we were [second to last] in the league. … We finished ninth this year, but there was only one point or one goal difference that separated us from the eighth placed team, and that is the last spot to make the playoffs.”

“We turned things around and I think we had a 30-goal differential, we scored more and conceded a lot less.”

When asked about the new recruits for the men’s soccer team, Hall said, “We’ve lost some tight games at the end, so this year we are looking at some good quality so we can finish the games well.”

The new recruits for the men’s soccer team are Steven Albers, Harrison Dover, Adrian Ortega, Alex Zarco, and Ahmadou Ndiaye. A few other players have yet to sign a contract.

Hall said, “Zachary Allevi scored 12 goals this year and he was our main striker, and we’ve had some seniors like Alejandro Inostroza from Chile, Mac Leverenz, Dylan Stockman, Kanye Sayon, three of whom are forwards and two of them are center-midfield.

These players almost never missed a game and were pivotal for the team. Then we also had a senior, Nathan Berillo; we had a large squad this year and we have a lot of guys to replace.”

The new signings are as follows for the men’s soccer team:
Steven Albers, a forward, is from Jacksonville High in Jacksonville, Illinois. He set the school records for career and single-season goals, accumulating 73 goals in total and 24 assists in four seasons at Jacksonville.

Harrison Dover is a defender from Rochester, Michigan and is set to become a key member in the backline. “He is unfortunately coming off an ACL injury, but we see great potential and know he will be a great fit for this team,” Hall said.

Adrian Ortega, from Chicago, played for the Chicago Fire Academy as a midfielder and was named to the MLS All-Star team. Hall said, “[Ortega] is a crafty player that I noticed while out recruiting when he was with the Chicago Fire [Developmental Academy].”

Alex Zarco, a midfielder, is from Champaign, Illinois and has played for two years at Parkland Community College.

Ahmadou Ndiaye is a midfielder from Moline, Illinois with a tally of 18 goals, seven assists, and 43 points across four years in high school.

“All recruits that we are bringing in have a lot in them to be game changers. They have the skill set, we watched them, we’ve had them on campus, we liked their personality, and they’re also hardworking,” said Hall.

The men’s soccer team is one of the biggest squads at UIS, with 30 players. Hall said, “One of the reasons that I like to have a [30-player] squad is that there will be good competition among players which will help them rise to the occasion. As long as they have the right work ethic we like to give them a chance.”

“Soccer is getting popular, so lots of new talents are coming up the ranks,” Hall added.

When asked to talk about last season, the newly appointed women’s soccer head coach Erin Egolf said, “I think last season was a step in the right direction for us. We set a couple of different records, we had our most wins in a season ever.”

“In the last few games of the season we thought we were almost there but we didn’t quite make it. Still work to do, lot of good things but still room to grow.”

Egolf added, “We had 20 girls return from our roster of 24 this fall, which is great, so we’re looking to add four to six players to make an impact right away.”

The women’s soccer team has recruited two players so far, namely Meghan Delaney and Taylor Parriott. Egolf said, “They are going to add a different dynamic to our attack and I am thrilled with how the rest of our 2017 class is shaping up”.

Meghan Delaney is from Sauget, Illinois and plays as a forward. She has totaled 17 goals, nine assists, and 43 points in three seasons.

Taylor Parriott plays as a midfielder and is a Springfield native. She has totaled 28 goals and 30 assists in two seasons.

“Recruiting is a 365-day jog and we’re always recruiting,” said Egolf. “Our first game is on August 18th, and right now the girls are doing strength and conditioning. I’m always optimistic, I think we have a good shot to make the top eight this season.”

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UIS soccer and its way forward