Archive for Thursday, August 17, 2006

New soccer coach eager for season to begin

August 17, 2006

Baker University men's 2006 soccer season should be interesting with the addition of new head coach Alan Koch.

The Wildcats finished with a 10-8-1 record and placed fourth last year in the Heart of America Athletic Conference.

"Our goal is to compete in every match," Koch said. "If we get on a roll, the sky is the limit."

Baker returns a talented senior class. Defender Scott Appell and midfielder David Russell return for their second year as captains, while forwards Marty Johnston and Shaun Nicklin hope to provide a potent offensive attack.

Appell, a Wichita native, is recovering from knee surgery and should be ready for the season opener Aug. 29 against Oklahoma City. Nicklin, also recovering from an injury, should be ready to start the season. Russell, a former defender, moves to the midfield to provide a physical presence. Upfront, Johnston hopes to return to the form that made him offensive player of the year in the Heart of America Athletic Conference two years ago.

"Our team spirit is good and the team's desire is second to none," Koch said. "Experience will help us a lot and what we really need is a couple of players to step up big time, and turn us in the right direction."

In 2005, Baker was on the verge of a conference championship before losing its final two HAAC games. Baker qualified for the postseason tournament, where it lost 4-1 to Graceland in the first round.

Koch, a former assistant at NCAA Div. II perennial power Midwestern State University, takes over for coach Ron Pulvers, who accepted a position with California State University-San Marcos.

From 2001 to 2003, Koch was an assistant coach at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Canada. He coached the Okanagan Challenge Soccer Club in Kelowna, Canada, in the summers of 2004 and 2005. The 2004 team reached the finals of the Pacific Coast Soccer League championship.
Koch, a native of South Africa, was an NAIA All-American soccer player for Simon Fraser in 1998. He also was a member of the South African Olympic Team player pool in 1995 and played professionally in South Africa, Germany and Ireland.
Newcomers to watch are transfers Ryan McAloon, Jaron Downing and freshman Kome Okiomah.

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