Buena Vista University's men's soccer coach Matt Klosterman is anxious to leave last season in the rearview mirror.
The 2005 team was plagued by injuries throughout the year which prevented the Beavers from reaching their full potential. Eight healthy returning starters and a program-record six seniors are ready to erase the memories from last year's 6-11-2 campaign.
"We expect to be a much, much better team than last year's injury-riddled team," Klosterman stated. "We expect to be very aggressive offensively and defensively, to control the ball, and to create a lot of good scoring chances. We also hope to regain the defensive attitude we have had in past years."
Headlining the list of returnees is senior midfielder Dustin Bonnett (Pierre, S.D./T.F. Riggs). Bonnett, a two-time all-conference selection, became the school's career scoring leader midway through his junior season and enters the year with 33 career goals and 76 career points. His 10 career assists are just three shy of the top spot on the school's career scoring list.
Joining Bonnett in the starting midfield will be seniors Jesse Smith (Council Bluffs, Iowa/Lewis Central) and Brett Johnson (Columbus, Neb./Columbus) and junior Jayke Vallette (Rapid City, S.D./Stevens). Smith, who can play nearly every position, recorded nine points last year, including a team-high seven assists. Johnson started 18 games last fall. Vallette was one of the Beavers who battled through injury last year and he scored two goals with one assist. Freshman Cody Nicely-Green (Bettendorf, Iowa/Bettendorf) and junior transfer Jason Fernandez (Rapid City, S.D./Stevens) will also work into the mix in the midfield.
Senior Brian Pregler (Dubuque, Iowa/Dubuque Senior) and sophomore Graham Guenther (Overland Park, Kan./Blue Valley West) are the team's most experienced forwards. Pregler ranked second on last year's team with four goals and 10 points. Guenther appeared in all 19 games, primarily off of the bench, during his first season in the program.
"Senior defenders Eric Saxton (Ham Lake, Minn./Blaine) and Taylor Jones (Detchikan, Alaska/Ketchikan) will anchor the Buena Vista defense that finished second in the Iowa Conference with six shutouts. Saxton, a two-time academic all-district selection, was one of only four players to start all 19 games last year. Jones ranked fourth on the team with two assists.