After a strong 2018 campaign, the App State men’s soccer team has no plans of slowing down and wants to use last season as a stepping stone to greater success.
The team finished the season 8-6-3, a record amount of wins for the program under head coach Jason O’Keefe and its first winning record since 2012.
“This will be by far the deepest team we’ve had since I’ve been here,” O’Keefe said. “I think this group can be very adaptable and flexible to whatever they’re dealing with on the night.”
Last season, a record-tying seven players were named to All-Sun Belt teams, including a trio of first-team members: goalkeeper and co-Sun Belt Player of the Year Jake Chasteen and defenders Felix Kollmanthaler and Zieko Harris. Midfielders Ian Bennett, Alex McGrath, Austin Hill and forward Camden Holbrook all made the second-team.
Despite Bennett, Kollmanthaler and Chasteen’s graduations, the Mountaineers still return multiple starters and several reserves this season.
Junior center back Harris, who led all outfield players in minutes last season, was named preseason All-Sun Belt and will play a big role in the Mountaineer defense. Defenders Brady Gunter, junior, and Mason Robicheaux, sophomore, also played quality minutes for the Mountaineers last season and are expected to take on larger roles.
“We have a pretty tough schedule, so we’re looking to compete and achieve our goals,” Harris told App State Sports.
Sophomore Camden Holbrook also returns after leading the team in goals last season. Holbrook hit the ground running and scored five goals in his first two college games, finishing the season with six.
The Mountaineers will welcome eight newcomers to the High Country, as O’Keefe brought in another diverse class of players with different backgrounds and abilities.
This recruiting class includes several international players. Diogenes Mayola and Kelvin Mulinya, come to Boone from Kenya, and Kelan Swales is an English sophomore transfer from Marshall.
The Mountaineers kick off their season against Saint John’s on Friday, Aug. 30 at the Ted Mackorell Soccer Complex.