The Pierce College men’s soccer team returns 11 players from a team that reached the first round of the NWAACC tournament last year.
The Raiders went 8-11 overall, but second-year coach Mark Lee said he expects they will be better this fall.
“We are going to have an older team with a lot of experience,” Lee said. “We only have six freshmen on the team this year.”
Pierce also has added a handful of transfers whom Lee thinks will make a difference.
“Expectations are very high this year,” he said. “Last year, we had a lot of little letdowns and mental mistakes. We don’t anticipate having those same kinds of errors this year.”
The Raiders looked crisp during their third practice of the summer last Wednesday. Players made pinpoint passes and played with intensity in 3-on-2 drills.
“It is so much fun coaching, especially at this level,” Lee said. “I was telling (Pierce Athletic Director) Duncan Stevenson the other day that the first day of practice felt like it was the first day of school when I was a kid.”
Defensively, sophomore Tyler Himmelberger will lead the Raiders from his sweeper position, and Tim Knoles will control things from the center midfield.
Himmelberger, who graduated from Emerald Ridge High School in 2012, said nothing short of a trip deep into the postseason will satisfy the Raiders.
“We have a lot of different goals this year,” he said. “We want to get to that Final Four at least and want to win an NWAACC championship.
“Being a sophomore, I have a new role this year,” Himmelberger said. “I’m stepping up and am being more vocal. I know how much responsibility I have.”
Sports Editor Shaun Scott can be reached at 253-552-7002 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @herald_shaun.