The Williams Baptist Soccer team opens the season on August 31 against Freed-Hardeman University with new faces and high hopes.
The key new face is the one on the sidelines. Former Williams soccer player Shane Stolz has been hired as the new head coach. Stolz graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Business Administration from Williams in 2009, and after working 2 years at Stephens Inc., an investment corporation in Little Rock, AR, Stolz had an opportunity to return to Williams and coach soccer and he couldn’t pass it up.
“We are trying to change the culture of the team,” said Stolz, “We want to be a hard working team that possesses the ball. All of our returners have been very good leaders. Our guys are buying into the system so far. If we are better at the end of the day than we were at the beginning it was a successful day, and we are trying to do that every day.”
Stolz thinks his players all have the ability to play a fast paced possession style game, he also thinks this style gives his team the best chance to be successful.
“We have a South American feel about our team.” Stolz went on to say, “These guys have grown up playing the short possession style of soccer that I want my team to play.”
When assistant coach Eric Smith was asked to describe the upcoming season in one word, the word he chose was “new.” “It’s very new, everything about it,” said Smith. “Stolz is building on the program, but bringing in new philosophies; as well as, many new young players.”
Thirteen of the 21 players are new to the Williams soccer program. “We have a very young nucleus that is energetic and ready to go,” said Stolz, “We are looking for contribution out of many of our new guys.”
Lucas Carmargo, a freshman from Brazil scored a goal in a friendly played against Northwest Mississippi Junior College. Williams won the friendly 2 – 1 with Khalil de Lima scoring the second goal for Williams. de Lima is a sophomore from Brazil and is also a newcomer to the Williams soccer team.
“We looked good for the first 25 minutes,” said Coach Stolz when talking about the friendly, “after that we got a little tired. We saw a lot of positives but also saw many things we can work on, which is good.”
The eagles have three upper-classman to go along with a strong nucleus of young players. Harold Owiti, a senior from Kenya, and juniors Esteban Piccinni from Paraguay and Henry Pineda from Green Forest, Ark. Stolz is looking for leadership and hard work out of his upperclassmen. They know that no starting jobs are set in stone, and if they are outworked by a younger player they will end up on the bench. Having the talented young players helps push the whole team to be better.
“Consistency” was the word Coach Stolz used to describe what he is looking for from his young team. “A goal of ours is to make the conference tournament for the first time in Williams soccer history. We also want to be a .500 team. We feel that both are very achievable if we play consistently, and the way we know we can.”
The soccer team has a very positive outlook on the year, and the players seem very energetic and excited about the season. “It’s going to be a good year,” Eagle Captain Lucas Braga said.
The Eagles first game is also the first day of class at Williams. The game starts at 3:00, and everyone is encouraged to come out and support the team as they open the season.