NORFOLK, Neb. – One game.
That's all the Northeast Community College men's soccer team needed to win last season to secure a spot in the competitive ICCAC men's soccer playoffs.
The Hawks hope to turn the page heading into the 2019 season as they enter their fifth year of existence under head coach Chad Miller.
"I think if we learn from our mistakes, this group will be able to create what they are capable of doing," Miller said. "If we can create the blueprint, these guys can build something. Using the strengths that we have and the talent coming in, I am hoping we can learn from the past and let creativity take its role with this team."
Helping the Hawks create the next blueprint for success will be the talented sophomores that have played in crucial situations as freshmen.
Yuri Rocha (Brasilia, Brazil) and Ricardo Goldner (Brasilia, Brazil) will be counted on to lead Northeast on the pitch in 2019. Rocha started in 13 games for the Hawks as a freshman and recorded a goal, while being named All-Region Honorable Mention. Goldner started in 14 games and recorded a goal, but will be asked to lead a solid group of defenders in his final season.
Sophomores Jared Hammerlun (O'Neill, Neb.), Manuel Jimenez (Lexington, Neb.), Felipe Santos (Brasilia, Brazil), Javier Rivas (Lexington, Neb.) and Breno Neves (Brasilia, Brazil) are all contenders for starting positions according to Miller.
"I expect a lot from these sophomores, but I don't expect much different from what they brought to the squad last year," Miller added. "This is a great group of sophomores that came in as leaders and I expect them to continue with that role this season. They know what the team can do and I believe they expect it from themselves as much as I do."
On the other hand, Miller sees a handful of freshmen making an impact right away.
"This freshmen class should help us balance out some gaps we had last season," Miller said. "I expect them to step up right away and show their willingness to go out and make this one of the most competitive teams we have had on the men's side."
Ricky Guel (Fremont, Neb.) is new face to the team, but not a new face in the sport of soccer in Nebraska. Guel was a four-time letterwinner and four-year starter at Fremont High School where he led his team to a district championship in 2017. He was also named All-Conference as a senior.
Goalie Ivan Garcia (Broomfield, Colo.) played for Legacy High School, where he led his team to three-straight '5A' state tournaments. He was named the Most Improved Player on his team after starting all four years.
Andrei Soares (Gravatai, Brazil) adds experience to the strong core of freshmen after playing from prominent soccer clubs in Brazil.
"I am looking forward to this being our first full recruiting class," Miller mentioned. "We had some hiccups along the recruiting path, but this is all our group now and I am excited to see what we can accomplish."
The Hawks begin the 2019 season at 6 p.m. (CT) Friday against Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, Colo.
For all news related to Northeast Community College athletics, visit northeasthawks.com for complete coverage. Fans can also follow the Hawks on Twitter @NortheastHawks for game-day coverage.