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Mens soccer ready to contend for title
mens soccer pic1
Players from California State University, Stanislaus mens soccer team practice early Friday morning. - photo by FRANKIE TOVAR / The Journal

Four years ago the men’s soccer team at California State University, Stanislaus was less than stellar. In the program’s 13 years of existence the Warriors had only won a total of 52 games, it was clear a change had to be made.

Enter head coach Dana Taylor. In the past three years Taylor has led Stanislaus to 33 wins, transforming the Warriors into true contenders in the CCAA and giving the school its first back to back to back winning seasons in history.

“This whole program has completely changed,” Taylor said.

Last year Stanislaus finished the season with an overall record of 11-6-2 and a CCAA record of 9-5-2, taking his team to the post season for only the second time. Now, with a stable of experienced returners and a fresh crop of talent, Taylor expects his Warrior squad to continue their streak of success and hopefully clinch a CCAA championship.

“I’d be surprised if we didn’t do well,” Taylor said. “At this point in time, on paper, this is our strongest team yet. We have a load of talent all over the field.”

Although five starters from last year’s team are gone, players like Jesse Horta, Andres Zamora, Daniel Kuczynski, and Kyle Cadigan are expected to offset their absence. Stanislaus’ weapon this season will be their depth, much of which is provided by local talent. Of the 33 men on the roster 28 of them are from Northern California.

“The Valley has a bumper crop of players who continuously get it done and we’ve tapped into that,” Taylor said. “I see us as being really potent up top and giving our opponents a handful; this is an incredibly strong team.”

To prepare for the upcoming season Taylor orchestrated an aggressive preseason schedule for his team, throwing them into the fire to test their metal. On Wednesday, the team scrimmaged NAIA powerhouse Corban College and followed with a Friday night scrimmage against Division I contender University of San Francisco. A final scrimmage against Notre Dame de Namur is scheduled for Aug. 25 before the Warriors kick off CCAA competition on Sept. 7.

“We need to take it one game at a time and not get ahead of ourselves,” Taylor said. “We want to concentrate on getting each player to play within the moment.”

Stanislaus’ Sept. 7 opener will be held at home as the team hosts Cal State Dominguez Hills, an opponent that has never been defeated in Turlock. The second home game of the season will be held two days later on Sept. 9 against Cal State L.A, the defending CCAA champions and the team that eliminated Stanislaus in the first round of the CCAA tournament a year ago.

“Our first two games are going to be barn burners,” Taylor said.