Everything is new for the Seattle University men's soccer program. New coach, new assistant coaches, new players — even a new stadium.
For a team used to winning, that might not be a good thing. But new coach Brad Agoos says don't worry. The days of national and conference championships are far from over at Seattle U.
"There's a new look here, for sure," said Agoos. "But there is such a good, winning tradition here."
Seattle U. won the Great Northwest Conference championship last season, and in 2004 won the NCAA Division II championship. But a few dark clouds surfaced on the horizon — namely with former coach Peter Fewing resigning after 18 years allegedly because of disagreements with school administrators.
Agoos, 35, who arrived from North Carolina-Charlotte, thinks the Redhawks will be OK.
"It was a tough situation, but we're trying to put it all behind us," said Agoos. "We have a new staff and a good group back from last year. We'll move forward with what we have and see what happens."
With only five starters back from last season, Seattle U. will need some quick help from last year's backups and this year's transfers. Forward Pat Thomas is the leading scorer returning from last year's conference champion with four goals and three assists. Also back are defender Eric Forner, forward Jason Cascio, goalkeeper Chris Sorenson and center midfielder John Fishbaugher.
"It's great to have a group of guys who are hungry to prove they belong in our starting lineup," said Agoos. "With the group that graduated last year, there are a lot of open spots. We should have some good competition to see who wants to start for this team."
Having Sorenson back in goal will help. The senior had a 10-4 record last year and a .783 save percentage along with five shutouts.
The Redhawks have a player who can stop goals, now they just need to find someone who can score them.
Will a returning player help make up for the loss of stars Alex Chursky and Bobby McAlister? Or how about a transfer? Agoos is waiting to find out.
"It's hard to lose a scoring load like we did, but we do have people who can score," Agoos said. "We lost a lot, but there are guys coming back who can put the ball in the goal."
The new soccer stadium at Championship Field sits on the site of the old one, but has new grandstands, scoreboard and grass field, which was brought in from Qwest Field after the Real Madrid-D.C. United game two weeks ago. The stadium's capacity is 650, with covered seating.
The Redhawks play four home games in the span of a week starting at 5:30 p.m. today against Chico State.
"It's a tough way to start the season, but we'll find out what we have right away," said Agoos. "At least the games are home, so we can break in a new team and a new stadium at the same time."