CYCLONE SOCCER PREVIEW: Starter losses no problem
Ask a coach who has lost 80 percent of his players to graduation what he expects for the new season.
Most will talk about rebuilding, looking for new leaders to emerge, or maybe even about retiring.
Rex Harriman is not like most coaches.
The Cyclones head boys soccer coach did, in fact, “lose” 16 of 21 starters to graduation.
And his 2012 team did finish as co-South Central League champions, scoring 70 goals while surrendering only 11 goals.
But the man who has made a living as a soccer pioneer couldn’t be more excited for the new season.
“I played on the first Pueblo Rangers soccer team,” Harriman said.
“I played on the first East High School soccer team. I played on the first USC (now CSU-P) soccer team. I coached the first CSU-P women’s soccer team.
“And I coached the first Pueblo West boys and girls soccer teams.
“This is what I do!”
It is no coincidence that all of these programs are successful.
Harriman says it’s because of high expectations, exceptional athletes and a proven system.
“By no means are we starting over or rebuilding,” he said.
“We have all of these elements — and more — with this year’s team. To a man, our 50 players expect to win. They are very athletic. And they believe in our system.”
The Cyclones system includes a rigorous summer strength and conditioning program, soccer specific skills development and 3-on-3 league competitions.
Harriman also believes strongly in teaching age-appropriate soccer and keeping it simple.
“We focus on playing our game,” he said. “Simple, physical and smart.”
The five returning Cyclone starters are certainly believers in Harriman’s system.
The Baxter brothers, Sami and Jake, Jaydon Moreschini, Austin Archuleta and William Do Santos look forward to carrying the torch, and continuing the eight year run of consecutive playoff appearances.
They will be tested early in non-conference games against perennial powers Cheyenne Mountain, Palmer Ridge and Air Academy.
The Cyclones raised a lot of eyebrows last season when they pushed all of these teams to the wire.
Harriman wouldn’t have it any other way.
“We love challenges,” he said. “We learn as a team when we are pushed. We see where we need to be to compete with the very best.”
The Cyclones season opener is Saturday at Palmer Ridge. Their home opener is Sept. 3 against Pueblo Centennial.
Assistant coach Tim Decker expects the Cyclones to be able to field three full teams this season, including a “C Team” which will compete primarily against non-conference teams.