09/02/2010 – The Saint's are coming into the 2010 with high expectations with the return of eight starters, four of them seniors. After back to back regular season championships the previous two seasons, the Saint's are primed and ready to go. Sixth year head coach Joe Veal comments, "I am really looking forward to seeing this team compete. This is probably my strongest class of seniors that I have ever coached, so obviously I am looking to them for leadership. This will be the first time since I have been here at Aquinas that we have four solid years of recruiting under our belt. Our goal is to win the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) and to qualify for the national championship. These are lofty goals, but attainable if our team chemistry comes together."
The senior class is loaded with talent and experience. Returning for the Saints is senior standout Jeovani Pantoja, who last year garnered WHAC conference offensive player of the year accolades. Pantoja led the country last season in game winning goals notching eight. As Pantoja prepares for his senior campaign, there is a sense of urgency in wanting to culminate his career in strong fashion. Pantoja, will have plenty of help on the field from his teammates. Last year's Most Valuable Player of the Saints squad, senior Michael Vaughn is geared for his last season as a Saint. Vaughn is a versatile player that has a great understanding of the game. Rounding out the senior class is Ruben Ornelas-Luna and Chad DeRussel. Both of these players have been instrumental in the past success of the Saints. Pantoja, Vaughn and DeRussel were all first team All-WHAC performers last season.
In the goal will be junior standout Jesse Guevara-Lehker, a second team All-WHAC selection last year. Jesse possesses quick instincts and anticipation and will be relied on this season. He was selected the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) national defensive player of the week last season.
Sophomore Heath Sommers returns with a year of collegiate play under his belt and has shown great improvement over the summer playing in the TKO super Y League. He was a second team All-WHAC selection during his freshman campaign. Rounding out the roster are a strong nucleus of upperclassman and the addition of 14 first year players. The new players all possess a great feel for the game and they will add depth to the roster.
This will be the third year that the Saints compete on the beautiful turf field tucked away on campus. Coach Veal comments, "Our field is awesome to play on. It has allowed us to have more flexibility in our training schedule. I love the fact that it's so accessible for our students to come out to watch a game. "
In addition to the competitive WHAC schedule, the Saints open the season with a tough contest against Walsh University on Friday, August 27th. Other top competitors will be NCAA Division II St. Joseph's and perennial powerhouse St. Xavier.
Aquinas College Men's Soccer Media Guide