Wildcats open season with Oklahoma road trip

The defending Red River Athletic Conference Tournament champion Wiley College men’s soccer team opens the 2016 season on the road. It visits St. Gregory’s University at 4 p.m. Friday in Shawnee, Oklahoma, and visits Oklahoma City University at 4 p.m. Saturday.

The Wildcats have met St. Gregory’s University twice since the program restarted in 2011. Wiley won the latest meeting 4-2 in Longview last season. Saturday will be the first matchup against Oklahoma City University.

St. Gregory’s has pitched two shutouts against Randall University and Sterling College. Last season, the Cavaliers went 5-11-2 and lost in the first round of the Sooner Athletic Conference Tournament. Oklahoma City University is 2-1 with victories against Bethel, Kansas, and Central Baptist in Arkansas. The Stars went 8-9 last season and reached the semifinals of the SAC Tournament. Coach Demetrio Hernandez, who is a candidate for RRAC Coach of the Year, said playing well on defense, scoring goals, unity and chemistry will be key to victory.

Wiley College returns 15 players from last season’s NAIA qualifying team. Abdallah Rayyan, who is a candidate for RRAC Offensive Player of the Year, is the returning leading scorer with six goals. Erik Reyes, who earned RRAC All-Tournament last season, will be the Wildcats’ starting goalkeeper. Senior Genaro Trevino and junior Tafadzwa Madamombe will be team captains.

The Wildcats have seven freshman. Jonathan Palomo, who didn’t play last season but participated the two previous seasons returns. Hernandez said he expects good things from all of them and hope they mesh with the returning players.

“We need to perform tactically and mentally,” Hernandez said. “We need to communicate as a team. We are hoping for the best on this trip.”

Live stats will be provided online for Friday’s game. Live video will be provided at portal.stretchinternet.com/okcu

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