The 2013 Webster University men’s soccer team will have 55 players on the roster this fall —the most in the programs 29-year history— including 35 freshman and six transfers.
With 11 seniors gone from last season’s St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship team and less than half of the varsity roster back this year, coach Michael Siener knew he had some work to do.
The new mix of recruits, Siener said, adds to the quality of kids that he has already, as well as provides depth to his team.
“Last year (I knew) losing 11 seniors and almost all of our starters that it was going to be important to bring in more kids to fill the roster up,” Siener said. “I spent the offseason trying to get those kids in here. I’m hoping that it will improve some areas in our team. That’s always the goal next year and two years, three years from now, to continue to get better and have better teams.
“Nobody told me I had to have as a coach, X amount of players. Nobody said ‘hey, you can only have 30 or you can only have 25’. It puts more work and more pressure on me and more work and pressure on the staff. There is no doubt about it.”
Siener, in his first year as Webster’s men’s soccer head coach, said he will have about eight athletes from outside the St. Louis area joining his team this year.
One of those players is midfielder/forward Jerek Morechini from Colorado.
Morechini was offered to play soccer at other colleges, but felt like Webster was the right place for him.
“I guess I just wanted to get away from the house, and I like the school and the campus and everything, so I thought it was a good fit,” Morechini said.
Besides Morechini, the Gorloks will also have a variety of freshman athletes from other states: Tyler Head and Angel Jasso from Texas, Braxton Rathod from Indiana and goalkeeper Kevin Hooper from Arkansas. The roster will also feature players transferring from other colleges and universities, such as Russell Giglio
from the University of Tampa, Tyler Thomas from Southwestern Illinois College and Kris Brown and Joey Kaver from St. Charles Community College.
Despite having 12 out-of- state players, the majority of the new recruits are from the St. Louis area.
Former Webster men’s soccer player and current assistant men’s soccer coach Jurgen Rama, who graduated last year, thinks it’s a benefit for the team to have athletes from different places.
“It’s always great to have diversity, and it brings people from different backgrounds to the university as well as it benefits the team,” Rama said. “Some chemistry can build with them having and coming from a different place, and seeing soccer in a different way then somebody who grew up in St. Louis can see it.”
In addition to all the new recruits, the men’s soccer team will also start a junior varsity program for the first time this season. Siener said the purpose is to develop any players that need more training and to sharpen their skills.
The only difference between the teams will be their game schedule. Their practices will be incorporated together. Rama also has the title of head reserve team coach, which means he will coach most of the junior varsity games during the season.
Morechini said it doesn’t bother him competing against many other athletes for a starting position on the team. Rather he likes it and thinks it is fun to compete with everyone.
“It definitely pushes the people that either have been here, or when the people come out on the first day of practice and they see so many people; that just gives them more competition,” Rama said. “With more competition, of course, leads to better results and people working harder. Working on things they need to work on to beat those other guys to get their starting spot, or coming off the bench or them making varsity. The level of competition makes it that much better when you have 57 players coming in.”
Siener hopes the roster expansion will create a better product on the field to compete with other universities that are nationally ranked in the top 10. Messiah (Penn.) and Loras (Iowa) currently rank No. 1 and No. 2 nationally. However, Siener said it’s going to be hard work for everyone involved.
“It’s going to be different,” Siener said. “I think the main thing for our kids is it’s going to be different. Everybody is going to have to work really hard, including the staff. Everybody is going to have to have more patience. Getting used to the change is going to be a hurdle we are going to have to get over. I think we are going to be able to put a better team out on the field and have more success. So that’s kind of what I’m looking for this year.”