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Arabs hope for turnaround season

August 23, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

The Imperial Valley College men's soccer team kicks off what it hopes is a turnaround season at 5 p.m. Monday as it travels to Yuma to take on Arizona Western College.

While hopes are fairly high, the Arabs could run into problems as they only return two players from the 2000 squad, during which IVC finished 6-8 in the Pacific Coast Conference.

While IVC coach Rafael Contreras doesn't see that as a major problem, he does think it will put more pressure on his younger players.

"The young guys will be a key for us this year because we only have two returners," said Contreras. "But what will help is that (the freshmen) have played a lot together. We have mostly players from Southwest (High School in El Centro) and Brawley (Union High) who have played together before, so that'll help a lot."

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Also helping is that Contreras coached the Southwest players last year and plans on running the same system at IVC.

Among Contreras' plans will be utilizing his team's speed and trying to attack the other schools in the PCC from the outside.

"Looking at our team right now, I can tell that we do have a lot of speed. That's why we're going to focus on going after teams from the outside," said Contreras. "A lot of the other guys were used to dribbling a lot and not focusing on their speed. But that's going to have to change because our guys can't just try to dribble in front of those bigger players from the other schools … they'll just stop them and take the ball away from them."

While IVC finished with a respectable 6-8 mark last season, what it lacked was depth at the midfield position. This year Contreras said he has four quality players for that area.

Leading the Arabs at midfield will be a returnee, 20-year-old Adalberto Ponce, along with freshman Julio Lopez of Brawley. Both are team captains.

While neither is worried about how he'll do as a midfielder, they do see other problem areas on the team.

"I'm a little a worried about a couple of things. I think our defense might be a problem," said the 19-year-old Lopez.

Added Ponce: "What I'm worried about is that we only have two returners. That might be a problem. But I think even though we have a lot of new players, we've gone from less to more. I think as the season goes on we'll continue to improve and hopefully we'll end up doing pretty good."

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