BC men’s soccer starts season Sept. 4

By Vinnie Birk, Blackburn Sports Information
The Blackburn College men’s soccer team is entering the 2013 season under the helm of new head coach Rob Steinkuehler who played at Blackburn for three years and then became assistant coach for four seasons. “The transition from assistant coach has been good because as an assistant, I had a lot of responsibility, including the fact that I was mostly in charge of recruiting, so most of the current players are my recruits,” said Steinkuehler.

In the 2012 season, Blackburn finished 7-10-1 overall with a 2-5-1 mark in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Returning junior goalkeeper Shane Rogers, of Granite City, is primed for another huge year. Rogers led the conference in saves last season as well as notching four shutouts. He was second with a save percentage of .774. Junior, Julian Valencia, of Pocahontas, will be used in many roles because of his versatility. He can play all over the field and he brings outstanding leadership to the team. Valencia started every one of the 18 games last season. Rogers and Valencia were both named captains for the 2014 season.

Senior, Alex Miller, of St. Charles, Mo., will be the team’s primary scoring threat. Miller played outside midfield in 2012 while scoring five goals in 17 games played. He is the leading returning goal scorer. Other seniors, Dylan Parkin, of Athens, Mo. and Gary Schulz, of Florissant, Mo., will provide depth at the forward and midfield positions, respectively.

With many newcomers filling out the roster, the Beavers will have to rely on the performance of these fresh new faces. Freshman Jonathon Velazquez, of Bolingbrook,  is a very tenacious player with great speed. He will be used as a scoring option for Blackburn up front. Brendan Krekeler, of Imperial, Mo. and Nate Kinnison, of Perryville, Mo., will be major contributors in the Blackburn midfield. Chris O’Connor, of Pleasant Plains, has backfield experience and Steinkuehler has been very impressed with his communication on the field from the backline.

“Our expectations this year are obviously to make the conference tournament. We may be a little young, but I believe we have the assets to do so,” said Steinkuehler.

Blackburn was picked to finish seventh in the SLIAC preseason poll. The top teams in the conference are predicted to be Webster University and Fontbonne University. Blackburn will play a couple of exhibition games before opening up the regular season at Harris-Stowe University Sept. 4 at 3 p.m. Conference play begins Sept. 28 as the Beavers take on the Highlanders of MacMurray College.