Unfortunately for Kansas City Kansas Community College’s men’s soccer team, being close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.
The Blue Devils lost four Jayhawk Conference games this fall, all by one goal and all by the score of 2-1. They also had a pair of 1-1 ties including one in conference play. Conversely, six of the Blue Devils’ seven wins were by one goal in a 7-6-2 season.
Indeed, the Blue Devils scored more than one goal in just one game – a 3-1 win at Coffeyville. For the season, they managed just 23 goals in 15 games – an average of 1.53 goals a game.
“We were in every single game except St. Louis (4-1) when we went with our second team to give them experience,” KCKCC coach Ruben Rodriguez said. “We had so many opportunities and came so close in so many games.”
The good news is that the Blue Devils have the potential return of 23 freshmen.
“I was real happy with our freshmen because it’s difficult to win games with freshmen until they gain experience,” Rodriguez said. “With freshmen come inconsistency. We’re looking for more consistency next season. It’s a time for patience but along with patience comes more grey hair.”
Of the 14 players who saw the majority of playing time, nine are freshmen. Starters lost include defenders Stylianos Papadimitriou, Ignacio Sarasol and Leonardo Notarnicola, midfielder Alejandro Maillet and forward Marcos Cabral.
Others with considerable playing time include midfielders Luis Alvarado, Cheslyn Ashby, Nicolas Bosemediano and Victor Lo and forwards Marcus Kawah and Abdulrahman Khalid along with Miguel Merida, Rodolfo Valiente, Richard Bowman and Guilherme Moreno.
“We have a whole lot of four-year colleges and universities looking at some of our players,” Rodriguez said. “I think that says a lot for our program.”
Returning starters include two of the team’s leading scorers, Elijah Bathily and Leonardo Bonelli and goalkeeper Bosco Pery, who posted a pair of shutouts, Bathily and sophomore Leonardo Notarnicola each had four goals and Bonelli three and soph Marcus Cabral three apiece. .
Other returning starters include forward Samba Gnokane, midfielders Jorge Monferrer, Carlos Rodriguez, Javier Blanco and Felipe Kerr and defender Lucas Santos. Gnokane and Santos each scored twice during the season as did sophs Ignacia Sarasol and Marcus Kawah,
There’s a wealth of depth defensively among the other returnees including several area standouts – Jonathan Moon and Jack Trumbo of Piper, Eduardo Lopez of Harmon, Fernando Barbosa and Trevor Hochard of Leavenworth, Cody Burleson of Lansing and DeVante Ridley of Blue Valley Northwest along with midfielder Ronin Richardson of Piper, forward Jorge Fernandez of Wyandotte and goalkeepers Christian Villegas of Turner and Chris Favela of Alta Vista in Kansas City, Missouri. Also returning are midfielders Jessy Zieta and Yohann Zamba and defender Sebastian Bolanos.
Recruiting for 2020 is well under way with a couple of commitments already in the books.
“We (are) looking at the future, not at the past,” Rodriguez said.