Romo Looks to Help KWU Men’s Soccer Reload
Mike Hammett - August 21, 2013 4:59 pm
While former head coach Mike Dibbini is gone, there is a sense of familiarity to the Kansas Wesleyan University men’s soccer team.
Gabe Romo takes over as head coach. Romo spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach to Dibbini, and prior to that, played for Dibbini at KWU from 2005 to 2008.
Already, Romo says he’s noticed differences in his role.
“As a head coach, the players depend on you a lot more,” Romo said. “I think that’s something I have to get used to. I’m the first one they call for anything they need.”
Romo inherits a Coyote program which is rich in tradition and success. The Coyotes are unbeaten in their last 33 Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference matches, and are undefeated in 27 straight KCAC matches. The Coyotes were last tied in the KCAC on November 2, 2009 against Friends, and last lost in the KCAC on October 10, 2009 at McPherson.
“I don’t plan to change much,” Romo said. “I learned from Coach Dibbini, so that formula is still going to stay the same. We’re still going to go get the California talent. We’re still going to bring them here. We’re still going to play the same way. I learned from the best, so why change anything?”
While the Coyotes are riding a long wave of success, this year’s squad features just one preseason All-KCAC selection in Diego Cocon.
“He’s having a great camp,” Romo said. “He’s been the player that we expected him to be.”
The Coyotes also return Matt Schmutzer at center back, but he is out with an injury right now.
“He would be a pretty big loss if we didn’t get him back soon,” Romo said.
The Coyotes will turn to last year’s reserves to help step up. Romo said he looks for big things from senior Sal Rosales and senior Ryan Ingrassia.
“They came off the bench for us last year, but those guys can play,” Romo said. “They should have started for us. We just had so much talent. It’s their year, their time to shine. I’m hoping that they step up their senior year.”
Even though the Coyotes return so little, the other coaches in the KCAC fully expect the Coyotes to reload once again, picking them to win the KCAC in the preseason coaches’ poll. The Coyotes were also voted No. 23 in the NAIA Preseason Coaches’ Poll.
“I don’t know where that came from,” Romo said. “I guess it must be off tradition or reputation. If you look at it on paper, we shouldn’t have got that number one spot.”
Romo said he expects Tabor and McPherson to challenge his squad. Romo notes the Blue Jays lost to the Coyotes 1-0 in Salina last year, and return eight starters.
“The conference is actually getting really, really good,” Romo said. “They’re starting to go recruit those California players. They’re starting to bring some talent here. Eventually, they’ll catch up. It’s great. Coach Dibbini set the blue print here and now the other conference schools are trying to follow it.”
Romo said his team will have a challenging non-conference schedule to get ready for conference play.
“I’ve been a part of this program for the last seven out of eight years as a player and as a coach,” Romo said. “In my opinion, this is probably the toughest 10 game stretch, with having nine road games out of our first 10. It’s tough to win at home and it’s even tougher to win on the road. My motto for this year for the guys, was we have such a hard (non-conference) schedule that our training camp and our practices have to be even harder to get ready.”
The Coyotes open the season on Saturday, August 31 at Bethel (Tenn.) before visiting No. 12 Columbia (Mo.) on Sunday, September 1. The Coyotes play their home opener on September 18 against No. 4 Mid-America Nazarene.