COLUMBIA — The Columbia College men's soccer team was in a good mood during warmups before practice. The team has a lot of confidence after an impressive 4-1 start to the season. The Cougars have outscored their opponents 13-1 in their first five games.
"It's very cool, we work so hard defensively," junior forward Yudai Yamaguchi said. "I think we are better than last year."
John Klein, Columbia College's head men's soccer coach has been named the school's new women's coach. The women's soccer program at Columbia College will begin competition in 2012. Klein has won 139 games since he became head coach of the men's team in 2000.
Cougars coach John Klein said expectations for this season's team are high because it returns so many starters from last year.
"These guys know what its about," Klein said, "The soccer has looked really good so far."
The experience and balance of the Cougars has helped them overcome a number of injuries early in the season. Senior forward John Hutchison has a stress fracture in his leg while sophomore defender Jovan Ilic and sophomore midfielder Vinicius Machado are out with ankle injuries. The team has excelled so far despite the injury problems.
"Right now, the soccer looks good even without them," Klein said.
Heading into the Cougars American Midwest Conference opener against visiting Benedictine-Springfield at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Klein said he doesn't see any weaknesses with his team. The Cougars have been outstanding defensively with all of the back four returning starters. Goalkeeper Matt McKenna has recorded four shutouts in his first five games.
Junior defender Tom Vincenc said he likes the team's balance.
"The thing is that almost everybody in the offense can score," Vincenc said. "We don't just have one guy."
While it helps to spread the ball around, Klein said he is looking for someone to emerge as a scoring leader.
"I'd still like to find one guy that wants to score 15 goals this year," Klein said. "Scoring's about confidence and believing."