AUDIO: New Coach, Same Goals for KWU Men’s Soccer
Mike Hammett - August 19, 2014 8:02 am
For the second straight year, there is change at the top of the Kansas Wesleyan men’s soccer program.
Gabe Romo resigned after one season as head coach in mid-May, taking the men’s and women’s head soccer coaching job at Holy Names University in Oakland, California.
Enter Phillip Bohn, who brings five years of head coaching experience in the NAIA to Kansas Wesleyan. Bohn spent last season as the head men’s and women’s soccer coach at Central Baptist College in Conway, Ark. Prior to CBC, Bohn was the head men’s soccer coach for one year, and the head men’s and women’s soccer coach for three years at Jamestown College in Jamestown, N.D.
Bohn takes over a program that is unbeaten in its last 42 Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference matches. The Coyotes have won four straight KCAC regular season titles and five straight KCAC tournament titles. Despite all the success, the Coyotes have yet to advance past the Opening Round of the NAIA National Tournament, losing on penalty kicks to MidAmerica Nazarene last season.
For Bohn, it’s not about changing a culture, but instead, taking the next step.
“This is a team and program that has done quite well,” Bohn said. “They have a winning mentality and a winning culture. They are looking, for us as coaches, for leadership to help get them to the next level. It’s not to say they haven’t won enough. It’s to say they want to continue to win, and they want to take that next step and win in the national tournament. They’re pretty upbeat about us because they know that our job is to make them as good and better. Our job is to get just a little bit more out of all of them.”
Bohn has a solid group of returning players, including four preseason All-KCAC selections. Senior goalkeeper Blessing Ngwa, senior Mario Villafana, sophomore Jesse Lennon and junior Adrian Hernandez all return with preseason honors. Ngwa was the KCAC Goalkeeper of the Year, while Villafana was the KCAC Newcomer of the Year last season.
Bohn said with the experience this team has, they’ve received a new coach very well.
“Sometimes you notice maybe a little bit of resistance of change,” Bohn said. “With this group, you don’t even really notice it. It just seems like they’re open to whatever we ask of them. They’ve come in with the attitude that ‘we want to win, and this is what you ask us to do, this is what we’re willing to do.’
Bohn says it all starts with solid senior leadership.
“The seniors have a really positive attitude,” Bohn said. “That’s one word that describes this team really well, is positive. It seems like they always find a way to put a positive spin on something that you could perceive as a little bit negative. That’s really unique about this group. The seniors have set a good tone. The boys seem to respond well to their leadership. I think that’s going to go a long way for what we’re doing on the field, but also what we’re doing off the field.”
While there are returners from last season’s KCAC championship squad, Bohn said there is good competition for spots on the varsity roster.
“I think they know with a new coach, what my eyes see are maybe different than a different coach,” Bohn said. “The reality is, is the quality players that do well to make their teammates better, any coach is going to look for that and be excited to have guys like that. We’re asking to play a certain way and do things a certain way, it may be the same, it may be a little bit different, but ultimately we’re not focused on that. We’re focused on figuring each other out. They’ve done really well.”
The Coyotes get their first test in a scrimmage against Fort Hays State University at 8:30pm on Tuesday, August 26 at Salina Stadium. The Coyotes then open the regular season with University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma at 2pm on Saturday, August 30, also at Salina Stadium.
“We don’t have a lot of time in our non-conference to beat up on some soft teams,” Bohn said. “Our non-conference is very difficult. It’s as tough as anybody’s in the country. We’re going to find out real fast what type of team we have, how we respond to success, but maybe more importantly, how we respond to some adversity. We’re going to face some throughout these first few weeks. What’s important about that is when we find success, it won’t come easy. We’re playing some great teams. That will help us learn the things we do well. And when we struggle, and when we face some adversity, we’ll find out really quickly what those things are so we can acknowledge them and hopefully we’re motivated to learn from them and get better.”
The Coyotes open KCAC play on October 4 when they host Southwestern for a 2:30pm kickoff.