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Men's Soccer Season Preview

COCHRAN, GA -The MGA Men's Soccer team is hopeful that a host of new additions will breed success in 2018. In all, the Knights welcome 16 new players to the program in 2018, along with several key returners who will look to fill leadership roles for the squad.
Goalkeeper Benjamin Pelz (Birresborn, Germany) returns for his sophomore season after leading the Southern States Athletic Conference is saves per game (5.13) and total saves (82) in 2017. In front of him will be a talented group of newcomers highlighted by freshman Erik Ulloa Villa (Savannah, Ga.), the Savannah Morning News Player of the Year last season at Windsor Forest High School. Fellow freshman Nick Young (Villa Rica, Ga.), Marc Jacques (Newcastle, England), Felix Gotthardt (Neudauberg, Austria), Martin Marquez (Glennville, Ga.), Stijn Willems (Sint Anthonis, Netherlands), Joseph Ojeda (Miami, Fla.), Tyler Brands (Savannah, Ga.), Marcos Garcia (Atlanta, Ga.) and Davide Montroni (Bologna, Italy) also join the squad. Sophomore Mario Martinez (Santa Tecla, El Salvador) is the lone returning defender for the Knights.
In the attack, MGA will be relying on several experienced players in the midfield and forward positions. Upperclassmen Degamarri Matthews (Statesboro, Ga.), Justin Alonso (Warner Robins, Ga.), and Johnathan Barragan (Macon, Ga.) all return after seeing significant playing time during the last several years. Last season's co-leading scorer Ernesto Corral (Guayaquil, Ecuador) also returns for the Knights at striker. Junior Victor Masvikeni and sophomores Alex Herrera (Guayaquil, Ecuador) and Jose Randich (Guayaquil, Ecuador) will also be relied upon in the midfield. Other attackers include promising newcomers John Crawley (Alpharetta, Ga.), Jacob Anthony (Forsyth, Ga.), Erick Zuniga (Lawrenceville, Ga.) and Kyle Jordaan (Johannesburg, South Africa).
A very arduous 2017 schedule, more than half of which was against nationally ranked teams, proved to be very difficult for MGA last season. The 2018 slate of games is not much easier, with a host of challenging non-conference road contests followed by a typical SSAC schedule full of talented foes. In non-conference play, away opponents include Tennessee-Wesleyan, Georgia Southwestern (NCAA Div. II), Life University, Point University, as well as Southeastern (Fla.) and Webber International. MGA's non-conference home games will be against SCAD (home opener, Aug. 21) and Talledega College Sept. 8).
In SSAC play, the Knights host Bethel (Sept. 27) and Martin Methodist (Sept. 29) at NeSmith Field before traveling to nationally ranked William Carey (No. 5) and Mobile (No. 6), both of which advanced to the NAIA National Tournament in 2017. SSAC newcomer Florida College visits MGA on Oct. 11, followed by Dalton State on Oct. 18. Trips to Faulkner and Brewton-Parker wrap up the conference schedule in late October followed by the SSAC tournament in early November.