Nov 21, 2019

Young Bruin Talent Bodes Well for the Future of Men’s Soccer

A Winning Tradition

  • Two NCCAA National Championships (1988, 1990)
  • Four NCCAA National Tournaments (1986, 1987, 1988, 1990)
  • Four NCCAA District/Regional Championships (1986, 1987, 1988, 1990)
  • Six NCCAA District/Regional Tournaments (1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990)
  • One NAIA National Tournament (1993)
  • One NAIA Regional/Area Championship (1993)
  • Three NAIA Regional/Area Tournaments (1993, 1996, 1998)
  • Two NAIA District Championships (1990, 1993)
  • Five NAIA District Tournaments (1988, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993)
  • Two Northwest Conference Tournaments (1995, 1996)
  • One Cascade Conference Tournament (1994)
  • Four NAIA Top 25 National Rankings (1992, 1993, 1994, 1995)
  • One NCCAA National Player of the Year (Dan LaVeine, 1990)
  • One NSCAA/Umbro National Goalkeeper of the Year (Jeff Nelson, 1994)
  • One NAIA Area Coach of the Year
  • One NAIA District Coach of the Year
  • 34 All-Americans 
  • 16 Academic All-Americans 
  • 11 players signed to professional contracts

NEWBERG --- The men's soccer program focused heavily on its youth movement in a 2019 campaign that drew to a close in early November.

The Bruins rounded out their challenging fall with an overall record of 5-12-3 with a 2-10-2 mark in Northwest Conference action. The Blue & Gold more than doubled the number of games won from 2018, collecting three early wins over Multnomah, La Verne, and Cal Lutheran before dealing losses to NWC opponents in Linfield and Whitworth.

With restricted upperclassman leadership, inspiring underclassmen to step up and become an influential part of the starting squad is pertinent. Second-year head coach Biniman Afenegus brought in one of the largest recruiting classes in program history this season and did just that.

Junior Liam Rudd and sophomore Jackson Keller served as captains over a roster that consisted of three juniors, 11 sophomores, and 21 freshmen. Rudd was one of just three to start in all but one game, guiding the young team and its backline. Keller and freshmen Solek Ashkinos each scored three goals to share the team-high mark. The sophomore's three goals and an assist combined for a team-leading seven points while placing 18 of his 35 shots on goal.

Ashkinos was one of the most influential bench players on the team. The rookie was extremely effective and scored on three of his 13 total shots in his 16 appearances. Ashkinos and Ohm Harape were a dangerous freshman pair, with Harape leading the team and ranking ninth in the NWC with 36 shots. The Los Angeles native scored his two goals in back-to-back games, including the game-winner against Whitworth in early October. The game against the Pirates will be remembered as the most impressive conference win of the season, with Whitworth finishing fourth in the conference standings.

Behind the squad's top scorers, sophomore midfielders Tyson Horn and Bryce Turnipseed each notched a goal in their 19 appearances. Horn collected four points on the season, solidifying his game-winner over Multnomah in late August with two assists later on. Turnipseed opened the scoring in the Bruins' 2-1 victory over La Verne with a chip into the box from Horn. Freshman Cole Bautista also saw six starts in his 18 games played at midfield, tying Horn with a team-best two assists, while sophomore Simon Dye recorded five shots in his 17 appearances.

Other freshmen to see notable time up top were Cole Seperich and Brennen Martin. Both earned several starts while playing in 15 contests with the two combining for four shots. Sophomore Sam Beuckens added four shots of his own in nine starts on the season.

Defensively, freshman Sebastian Lopez was a standout in his 982 minutes logged in net for the Bruins. Even with an eight-game injury hiatus, the rookie amassed a conference-topping .825 save percentage with a second-best 66 saves. Lopez allowed the fifth-lowest number of goals and posted a season-high 11 saves in a September draw with Occidental.

When the time came for Cole Benton to take the gloves, the junior was more than ready to back Lopez up. The Washington native recorded 36 saves for a .800 save-percentage, tallying a season-high seven saves in his first start against Linfield. Freshman Richie Seaman also totaled eight saves in his 129 minutes.

The Bruins' backline, anchored by Rudd, sophomore Jared McInnes, and freshmen Diego Gil, compiled five clean sheets. The three appeared in every game, while freshmen Connor Flolo and Wesley Frye combined for 17 starts on defense as well, with Flolo aiding Horn in his game-winner over Multnomah. Noah Schorzman and Jamie O'Connell were instrumental reserves as each made 11 appearances in the backfield.

Despite the setbacks and lack of experience this season, several underclassmen made lasting impressions while the few upperclassmen continued to develop. The Blue & Gold will return a more seasoned squad in 2020 and, if health can remain on their side, the Bruins have a promising future full of true talent and potential.