Photo by Elijah Greene ’25

Emilio Paez ’25 faces down two defenders in game against Deninson on Tuesday, October 11, 2022 at Fischer Field. 

It is a breath of fresh air as the Wabash soccer team looks into their new season of soccer action. The team is excited to face the regular season following preseason scrimmages.

“Our expectations are always for the program as a whole, not individually,” said Head Soccer Coach Chris Keller. “If we are better on the last day of the 2023 season than we were in 2022, then as a program we have improved, and that is our number one expectation. Results wise, we are going to put in the work and discipline and do what we are supposed to do during the game and the results will happen. Our expectations are to compete and accomplish our team goals. That will lead to wins or losses.”    

After a heartwarming goodbye to the class of 2023, the team saw some of their key players leave. Caleb Castano ’26 was no exception. Castano, arguably the team’s best presence last season, went on to pursue his future with Biola University in California. However, the future looks bright for the Little Giants as they introduce a total of 15 freshman players, the most in the last decade.

“Caleb had a good non-conference season last year,” said Keller. “He scored five goals in the non-conference games but then didn’t score any against the top three teams. So, I think that was a growth thing. I really like the group that we have in the final third, this year. It’s exciting. Some guys that were freshmen last year are mature sophomores, likewise, the juniors. So, I think we are going to be stronger offensively than we were last year.” 

Fans are eagerly awaiting the strategic impact of these recent acquisitions as they seek to mitigate the void left by departing athletes from the previous year‘s roster. Alexis Delgaldo ’23, who notably contributed six goals and two assists to the team’s prior campaign, will be a significant piece to fill alongside Castano. Furthermore, the departures of Michael Bertram ‘23, Austin Hughes ’23, Mitchell Keeling ’23, Quinn Leous ’23, Coledon Johnson ’23 and the promising Soren Russell ’26, a pivotal goalkeeper, instrumental to the team’s commendable performance in the preceding season with several man-of-the-match performances.

Russell, after his departure, left the goalie position open for the taking. The other goalies now face off to claim this spot. 

“It’s a dogfight between our goalkeepers,” said Keller. “Right now, Fernando Ramos ’25 is stepping up. What we are trying to do is play more with the goalkeepers at the back and I think he is a little bit better with his feet than the other guys. Henry Giesal ’25 brings a good aerial presence with his size and Andrew Dever ’25 is more of an all-round goalkeeper. They are training every day to take that starting spot.”

Anticipation is running high among the Little Giants as they gear up for their inaugural match of the 2023 season, slated to take place on September 1st, 2023. This encounter will see the team embarking on an away game against Franklin College. Reflecting on their previous encounter in the 2022 season, the Little Giants faced off against Franklin and displayed their dominance with a decisive scoreline of 3-1, signaling their competitive prowess. After that, they went on to win their next two games, showcasing dominance on every part of the pitch with 4-0 and 7-0 scores against Olivet College and Mount St. Joseph University, respectively. Their performance throughout the 2022 season saw them finish fourth in the North Coast Atlantic Conference (NCAC) behind Denison University, Ohio Wesleyan University, and Kenyon College. Thus, securing a spot in the tournament against top rivals. The Little Giants lost by a game score of 4-0 to Kenyon College capping off their 2022 season on a 12-6-1 record.  

“We want to execute on game day and tick all the boxes of every game plan,” said Keller. “If we do those, we should be successful in a lot of games this year and get the win, but if we do not play to our potential, any team in our schedule can beat us. We have the hardest strength of schedule that we have had in the last 10 years. Five out of the first seven games in the non- conference are teams that went to the NCAA tournament in the past two years. So it is going to be a good test for the team.”

Looking ahead to next season, several players stand out.

“One guy that gets overlooked a little bit—and I think he is one of the best players in the region—is Bruno Zamora ’25,” said Keller. “He controls our midfield along with Emilio Paez ’25. And some young guys stepping in right away as Freshmen. Bryce Kinnaman had a good scrimmage against Marian in the preseason and scored a penalty kick. We have Jesse Martinez ’26 and Angel Vazquez ’26 who had a good season last year. We have Jose Escalante ’26 back, and I think the talent is there. I am excited to see this group.”