Kevin Sethre, Staff Writer
The Augsburg men’s soccer team are looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2019 season where they failed to qualify for the MIAC playoffs after losing four of their first five conference games. Two years ago, they were able to upset St. Thomas and top-seeded Gustavus before losing to Carleton in the MIAC Playoff Championship.
The Auggies will have to find offense from other players when the season begins in the spring after losing some key senior contributors. Lionel Vang, who led the team with ten goals and seven assists, as well as Daniel Hedstrom, who scored four goals and recorded two assists, have both graduated. On the defensive side, the team also lost starting goalkeeper Garrett Kaelin, who started 15 of Augsburg’s 18 games last season and had a .791 save percentage.
Vang’s departure leaves a big hole in the front, but many underclassmen will look to fill his shoes. Junior midfielder Nick Zuchowski, who scored six goals in his freshman year and three goals last year, was second on the team in assists last season with four. He represents a good goal scoring threat while also being good at passing the ball and creating scoring opportunities. Junior midfielder Antonio Magadan and senior forward Lalo Gomez also did well on the attack last season.
Hedstrom was a great defender who’s 6’5” height helped on set paces, where he scored many of his goals. Senior Nick Vergara and sophomore Drew Collins both got lots of playing time a season ago, and they also scored two goals each. They will probably be the defensive leaders going forward.
Kaelin had been the starting goalkeeper for the past two seasons and was named to the D3soccer.com All-American Third Team in 2018. His likely replacement is Zachary Berg, who played in six games last season, starting three times and saving 64.7% of the shots he faced.
While they lost quite a few keep contributors, Auggie players are still optimistic about the team this season. “This season we have a younger squad and a lot of strong talent which leads to good competition for places in the squad with everyone pushing each other to improve every training,” Ethan Poppen said in a statement to the Echo. “The energy in the team is very positive and we are hungry to improve on where we finished last year.”
Although they lost some key pieces to graduation, the young Auggies have all the pieces to move forward when they get back on the field in the spring.