Randy Speer, The Circuit
For the first time in a decade, the Benedictine men’s soccer program will be headed by someone other than Rob Herringer. The Ravens enter the 2016 under the direction of first-year head coach Miguel Rodrigues and hope to improve on last season’s success.
“There aren’t a lot of times in which you get to become a head coach at a program that has been so successful,” Rodrigues said. “Because of that I am extremely fortunate.”
The Ravens are coming of an 9-7-1 season with a 4-5-1 record in conference. The record doesn’t tell the whole tale however, as the Ravens took Baker, a national tournament team, into double overtime in Baldwin City, as well as leading MidAmerica Nazarene, another national tournament team, at home 2-1 before falling 3-2.
“I feel like we are in a good place,” Rodriguez said. “I feel like as far as what we worked on in the preseason and implementing our system of play, our style of plan on to the team, I feel as though so far it showed.”
Benedictine’s biggest question mark heading into the season will be its goal scoring ability. The Ravens only found the back of the net 29 times last season.
“I guess that’s a million-dollar question isn’t it,” Rodrigues said laughing. “Ask me before the first conference game.”
Benedictine will be looking to work out the kinks in the offense before the conference opener Sept. 17 at Culver-Stockton and they will have some work to do.
Last season’s goal total ranked the Ravens eight in the conference and in the bottom third of the nation.
“I think that’s something we’d like to be know for, we’d like to be know as an attacking team, we’d like to be known as a team that can score goals, puts a little fear in teams,” Rodrigues said.
Leading goal scorer Ryan Dickerson is back. The junior had five goals in his sophomore season to pace the Ravens offense. Benedictine also returns a host of other players who took their turn scoring. Calum James and Trenton Schafer, as well as Levi Spray, John Dannerbring and Adam James, who all scored multiple times last season, all return as well.
Rodrigues hopes that his new system will allow the players to shine in their own way.
“I think one of our jobs as coaches is to allow the players to be fully be themselves on the field. I feel that it is our job as coaches to not dictate something onto our players, but rather use their abilities, their skill sets and put them in a situation to be successful,” he said.
Defensively, junior Caleb Jenkins, who started every game last season in goal, is back but with the coaching change every position has been reevaluated bringing senior Aaron Lippert into the competition.
“We have a core group of guys that I would say we are really looking at and then another core group of guys we are looking at to develop over time,” Rodrigues said.
While the title of head coach might be new to Rodrigues, the responsibilities of it aren’t entirely foreign.
“I think the biggest difference is you have a lot of decision to make, a lot of decisions you didn’t know you had to make now you have to make them,” he said. “I’ve been very fortunate, the people I’ve worked under previously really forced to do some if not all of the components of what it takes to be a head coach.”
Playing meaningful soccer into December is the goal for Benedictine, for Rodrigues its much simpler in his first year at the helm.
“That’s really my goal, just learning how this process sort of works, how this program is, how it is and putting my stamp on it,” Rodriguez said.
Benedictine opens its season at 6 p.m. on the road against Rockhurst. The team’s first game at the John Casey soccer complex is at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday August 31 against Midland.