Soccer returns starters

Ashley Smith · Wednesday, April 5, 2017
Fourteen players from the 2016 West Liberty Varsity Boys’ Soccer team will return for the 2017 season, said head coach Mike Gunn.

“Many of our starters from last year will be returning for another season,” said Gunn. “I have a good coaching staff returning for another season as well.”

Returning starters include Carlos Atondo, Alfredo Hernandez, Andres Garcia, Eliseo Tapia, Joe Baker, Jesus Maldonado, Aaron Lara, Martin Menjivar-Banegas, Andres Garcia-Vargas and Joe Kelly.

There are also a few new faces on the Varsity team. “Promising new players include freshman Gabe Seele and sophomore Miguel Portillo-Gonzalez,” said Gunn.

Assistant coaches for the team are Raul Hernandez and Vicente Ferrer, and volunteer coaches Dan Bartleson and Alejandro Perez round out the coaching staff.

While Muscatine edged out the Comets 3-2 at their season opener last Thursday, Gunn is hopeful for an excellent season.

“Playing Muscatine in the first game of the season is difficult, but it shows me our faults right away,” he said.

“This year we have had the benefit of playing a couple pre-season scrimmages against very difficult opponents,” said Gunn. “Maybe this will serve us well.”

So far, according to Gunn, the Comets' biggest challenge has been academic ineligibility. "We have a number of ineligible players who would have contributed quite a bit this April. We will have to wait until May to be at full strength," he said.

In his tenth year coaching the Comets, Gunn said the team has made it to the state tournament three times during his tenure. They have been to the substate final six of the last nine seasons.

The 1A No. 9 Comets made a trip to the state tournament last year with a 11-7 record, but lost in the first round to Beckman-Dyersville.

West Liberty could make a run at the state tournament again this season, but the road won’t be easy. The Comets will face No. 3 Columbus on April 17 and No. 2 Regina in May.

"We play a very tough schedule, especially in April. Muscatine and Davenport Assumption are two tough opponents," said Gunn.  "It will get easier from here on out."

Coach Gunn is confident the team can return to state this season. "Our goal is to advance further than we did last year," he said. 

The road won’t be easy. The Comets will face No. 3 Columbus on April 17 and No. 2 Regina in May.
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