KWU Women’s Soccer Reloads with New Coach
Mike Hammett - August 21, 2013 5:00 pm
Blake Reynolds knows he’s coming into a good situation at Kansas Wesleyan University.
Reynolds is the new women’s soccer head coach, replacing former men’s and women’s coach Mike Dibbini, who left in July for the women’s soccer head coaching job at NCAA Division II Cal Poly Pomona.
Dibbini left a team full of talent at Kansas Wesleyan, as the Coyotes are picked to win the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference and are ranked No. 11 in the NAIA Coaches’ Preseason Poll.
“Kansas Wesleyan has such a great reputation, and it’s what attracted me to come here and take this position,” Reynolds said. “Credit to Mike and Gabe Romo, the new men’s coach, for all the work they did assembling the talent on both sides. They built top 25 contenders on both sides.”
A native of Seattle, Reynolds made his way to the Kansas as a player at Baker University. Reynolds also spent four years as head coach of the women’s soccer program at Midland University (Neb.).
Reynolds says he’s not going to change much right away.
“My intention is to keep things very similar to the way they’ve been run before,” Reynolds said. “They have a great blueprint here, and just add in some of the little things that I like to do that may make them even better.”
To open this season’s practices, Reynolds is spending time learning about his team.
“Over this last week its been a lot of letting them play and seeing what I’ve got,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds has three preseason All-KCAC selections on his squad, and it’s a mix of a veteran and two young, exciting players.
Crystal Sanchez returns for her senior year after completing her bachelor’s degree. Sanchez had another year of eligibility, and is now starting work on a Master’s degree at KWU. Sanchez had four goals and 13 assists last season.
“I was thrilled that Crystal Sanchez decided to come back,” Reynolds said. “She didn’t even know until all the way up until about the start of the season that she was going to (play). She didn’t quite do the training that she needed to do this summer. You can just tell she’s a gamer. She pushed through everything and made the fitness test. She’s been a huge part of the program and having her this year in my first transition year is a great asset to have.”
The Coyotes also return the reigning KCAC offensive player of the year in sophomore Melissa Martinez.
“Lots of accolades for her sheer speed and athleticism and finishing ability,” Reynolds said.
Martinez was an honorable mention All-American as a freshman with 14 goals and two assists. The 14 goals led the KCAC.
Reynolds is excited about his other sophomore pre-season All-KCAC selection in Roxy Gomez.
“You’ve got Roxy Gomez who may be the underlooked of the two but may be the more complete all-around player,” Reynolds said. “(She’s) somebody that the conference is going to find out about, if they don’t know already, they’re going to really see it this year. The girl is an incredible talent.”
Gomez tallied four goals last season, but three of those were game-winners.
The Coyotes are on the road early this season, playing matches in Tennessee, Missouri, Florida and Oklahoma. The Coyotes will face four teams ranked in the Top 25.
“Mike left a tough schedule for us in the non-conference,” Reynolds said. “I would say this is the toughest non-conference schedule in the history of the program on the women’s side.”
The Coyotes play at home just once in their first nine matches, and have a stretch where they play five matches in 10 days, with four matches on the road.
The Coyotes open the season on Saturday, August 31 at Bethel (Tenn.) before facing Columbia (Mo.) the next day. The Coyotes play their home opener against Mid-America Nazarene on September 17. Conference play begins October 5 at Southwestern.