by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC
The 2019 men’s soccer season at Kansas City Kansas Community College explodes with a bang. Three home games in a span of 11 days starting Thursday when the Blue Devils play host to State Fair.
Kickoff under the lights Thursday is set for 8 p.m. and will follow the KCKCC women’s opener against State Fair at 6 p.m. The men also will play host to Crowder Aug. 28 and Iowa Central Sept. 1 before heading into Jayhawk Conference action.
The busy start will give head coach Ruben Rodriguez and assistant Burke Slusher time to sort out what by all accounts is the deepest Blue Devil squad in years.
“With the exception of goalkeeper, we have returning starters at every position but also a group of very good freshmen,” said Rodriguez.
Fourteen sophomores return, most of whom started or played substantial minutes in last year’s 6-5 season. Whether they can hold off an influx of newcomers is yet to be determined.
“Good competition with a lot of new people,” Rodriguez said. “Everyone will be competing on a game by game basis. Every practice will feel like a tryout.”
With a 14-game schedule, the Blue Devil depth could be a season changer.
“In theory, we have enough depth to keep fresh players in the game at all times,” Slusher said.
The strength of the squad starts defensively led by veterans Stylianos Papadimitriou and Ignacio Sarasol at the center back position.
“The core of our defense,” Slusher said. “And we’ll be real competitive at the outside back positions.”
Sophomores Richard Bowman of Bishop Miege and Leonardo Notarnicola will be joined in the battle for starting positions by Brazilian Lucas Santos, Eduardo Lopez of Harmon, DeVante Ridley of Blue Valley Northwest and a trio of former Piper standouts, Johnathan Moon, Ronin Richardson and Jack Trumbo III.
There’s a wealth of international experience at midfield with veterans Miguel Merida, Vitor Lo, Nicolas Bosemediano, Alejandro Maillet, Marcos Cabral and Luis Alvarado of St. James Academy. Freshmen challengers include Jessy Zieta, Jorge Monferrer, Felipe Kerr and two graduates of Alta Vista High in Kansas City, Missouri, Carlos Rodriguez and Javier Blanco.
Marcos Cabral, Marcus Kawah, Cheslyn Ashby, Rodolfo Valiente, Leonardo Bonelli and redshirt Abdulrahman Khalid provide veteran experience at forward; Khalid setting out last season with an injury. Freshmen attackers include Jorge Fernandez of Wyandotte, Samba Gnokane and Elijah Bathily.
The fiercest competition may come at the goalkeeper position where three freshmen are neck and neck for the starting job – Christian Villegas of Turner, Chris Favela of Alta Vista and Bosco Pery of Madrid, Spain.
“All three are very good; extremely talented,” Rodriguez said.
In addition to four non-conference games, the Blue Devils will play home-and-home contests with Jayhawk rivals Johnson County, Neosho County, Allen County, Coffeyville and Cowley College.
Two years ago, the Blue Devils won the Jayhawk Conference and the Plains District championships to earn KCKCC’s first-ever berth in the NJCAA Division I national championship.
“It’s our goal every year,” Rodriguez said.
Kansas City Kansas Community College
2019 Men’s Soccer Schedule
Thursday, Aug. 22 STATE FAIR, Home 8 p.m.
Wednesday, Aug. 28 CROWDER, Home 7 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 1 IOWA CENTRAL, Home 2 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 7 Neosho County, Chanute 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Sept. 11 COWLEY COLLEGE, Home 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Sept. 18 Johnson County, Overland Park 4:30 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 21 ALLEN COUNTY, Home 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Sept. 25 Coffeyville, Coffeyville 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 29 ST. LOUIS CC, Home Noon
Wednesday, Oct. 2 NEOSHO COUNTY, Home 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 5 Cowley College, Arkansas City 4 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 11 JOHNSON COUNTY, Home 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Oct. 16 Allen County, Iola 4 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 20 COFFEYVILLE, Home 4 p.m.
• – Jayhawk Conference