The Barton Community College soccer teams officially begin the 2017 season on Tuesday as the Cougars head to Norfolk, Nebraska, to take on Northeast Community College.
As both head coaches enter their second season at the helm, each have totally rebuilt their West Division runner-up squads in a run for the title this season.
Coming off a 9-6-1 campaign, Ousmane "OC" Camara leads the Lady Cougars with just two returners from the 2016 season in the England duo of second team All-Jayhawk West Kirsty Ashworth and Shanai Jackson-Brown.
With a trio of tune-up scrimmages under their belt, Barton will open up the season against a Northeast squad the Lady Cougars defeated in a hard fought 1-0 victory early last September. Barton will then open the home season two days later in hosting the junior varsity squad from Central Christian College in a 2:00 p.m. kick-off at the Cougar Soccer Complex. A five game road trip then lines the schedule, including a September 9 trip to nationally receiving votes Hutchinson Community College, before hosting Hesston College for its second home contest of the season on September 19.
For the Cougar men, Head Coach Mike Brown returns a solid nucleus of players to go along with a load of incoming talent. Having its 2016 season of 13-2-1 and a No. 19 ranking come to an end on an upsetting shootout loss in the Region VI Tournament, the Cougars return four All-Conference selections highlighted by a tough defensive line in Boris Nana Tonzi, Julio Vicente, and Benjamin Zamora to go along with Jose Escobedo leading the offensive charge.
Coach Brown has challenged his new look squad in the pre-season, taking on one of the top NPSL teams in FC Wichita, and NAIA No. 8 ranked MidAmerica Nazarene University and NCAA Division II No. 11 ranked Fort Hays State University.
The tune-ups will have the Cougars ready for a challenging 2017 schedule ahead, beginning with Tuesday's trip to Nebraska as the first of six non-conference games away from the home turf.
Looming later this week is a soccer fan's dream of four nationally ranked teams coming to the Cougar Soccer Complex as the Cougars will host the Barton Classic on Friday and Saturday. Coach Brown's nationally receiving votes Cougars will kick-off the Classic at 10:00 a.m. versus No. 18 ranked Laramie County Community College being followed by former Barton legendary head coach Oliver Twelvetrees' No. 11 ranked Eastern Florida State College taking on No. 6 Trinidad State Junior College in a 12:00 p.m. battle. In Saturday's slate of games, Barton will again begin the doubleheader at 10:00 a.m. against Trinidad with Eastern Florida and Laramie County tangling on the pitch at high noon.
The Cougars will also have another tough non-conference game in early October as Coach Brown takes the squad to his old stomping grounds in Council Bluffs, Iowa, taking on #3 Iowa Western Community College. Having begun his collegiate coaching career at IWCC, which included his now volunteer assistants Humberto Estrada and Mattieu Braem, Brown and Braem helped lead the Reivers to the 2013 NJCAA National Championship.
In addition to the challenging preseason and non-conference schedule, Barton will have its normal rugged Jayhawk Conference schedule which includes the No. 7 ranked T-birds of Cloud County Community College. The teams will square off in the first of two meetings on September 16 in Concordia before a month later wrapping up the series October 12.
"We definitely wanted to challenge ourselves this year with our non-conference and preseason schedule," said Brown. "We play in one of the toughest conferences in the nation, top to bottom, and felt a stronger schedule could better prepare our players for conference play and moving on to the next level. Making a consistent effort to schedule strong opponents throughout our schedule, we believe it will aid us in our development process as a team in 2017."
Complete schedule and team information can be found at www.BartonSports.com.