For the first 12 seasons of the program, the Barton men’s soccer had just two coaches. Those coaches combined to go 187-54-17 and make three trips to the NJCAA National Tournament.
In this, the fourth year since, Barton is now on its third coach and have not made it past the semifinals of the Region VI tournament.
Mike Brown starts the season as the fifth coach in program history – the third in four years.
“Things are going pretty well,” Coach Brown said of the new position. “I think it is definitely an adjustment period for the guys and me just as there is every time a new coach comes in.”
Now don’t think Barton men’s soccer has dropped to the bottom of the region by any means. In the past three years Barton has tied for a Jayhawk title once and finished second once. Last year the Cougars were 14-2-1.
So this team competing for a conference and region title is not out of the picture by any means.
“We brought a lot of new guys into the program with good energy,” Coach Brown said. “The cool part is seeing how the team is coming together off the field as well as on the field. We have a great group of sophomores who have been outstanding leaders. I can’t say enough about them.”
The Cougars have some key pieces back from last year’s team. Leading the way is Lucas Alves, the second leading scorer for the Cougars last season.
Alves had 13 goals – just one off the team lead.
“Lucas is obviously a player than at any point came change the game,” Coach Brown said. “He is very different in that all he needs is one chance and he can open the game up for you.”
Also back is Bruce Turner in goal. Turner started 16 games last season, allowing just 14 goals while posting a 12-2-1 mark as the keeper.
Alves was a first team All-Jayhawk pick while Turner was an honorable mention.
Returning after honorable mention All-Jayhawk picks are defender Kota Endo and midfielders Grayson Carroll and Sergio Ribeiro. Ribeiro had three goals and four assists.
Those are among a group of sophomores Coach Brown is looking to for leadership.
“Vinicius Monteiro is an outstanding individual. He will be our team captain,” Coach Brown said midfielder and back row player. “I can’t say anything but good things about him as a person both on the field and off the field. He is a 4.0 student, a good leader, and just the type of kids guys want to be around.
“Kota Endo, Sergio Ribeiro, Luiz Pereira have all really bought in. What they have done for team chemistry and being role models for the other kids is tremendous.”
As far as the new faces look for a pair of Frenchmen to make some noise along with a player from just up the road in Salina.
Boris Nana Tonzi, a backline players, and Maxine Noel, both midfield and backline, are freshmen from France. Players Coach Brown is looking to for contributions.
“Boris has a very strong pedigree in France and Maxine is a solid, smart player who is very cerebral with his game,” Coach Brown said.
Another freshman to look for is Salina South product Jose Escobedo. Escobedo will be a forward for Barton.
“He play for the Sporting Academy and is very dynamic,” Coach Brown said. “It’s pretty cool he is a local guy as well.”
With a freshman class consisting of more than half the roster, those three will not be the only players counted on to make an impact.
“We have a bunch of freshmen I have been very pleased with in terms of freshmen coming ready to compete,” Coach Brown said. “The roster, 1-25, can contribute on any given day.”
The Jayhawk Conference was split into an East and West division this season with Barton picked third in the West. Cloud County is the pick to win the West while defending Jayhawk champion Pratt is picked second.
Cloud and Pratt both received votes in the NJCAA national poll as well but did not crack the Top 20.
“I don’t get wrapped up in all that stuff,” Coach Brown said about expectations. “We just take it day by day. We want to get better every day. At some point we can figure out all that other stuff.”
The Cougars will open the 2016 season Wednesday in Oklahoma against Northern Oklahoma Tonkawa. Kickoff is set for 4 pm.