Coming off of a transition season that saw them post their worst record as members of the Western Indoor Soccer League at 4-4-0, the former Olympic club hopes that adding depth to their roster along with the return of last season’s top goal scorer will help them get the newly named Oly-Pen Force back to the top of the table in the 2018-2019 season.
“This years squad is quite a bit deeper than last year going into the season,” said Force Head Coach Steve Cashmore. “We have a good core group including last year’s leading goal scorer Alex Hernandez and indoor veterans David Meherg, Kevin Flavin and Vic Kelmel.”
That core will be bolstered by the return of a group of players that were instrumental in leading the Force to two straight WISL championship games in 2016 and 2017. That group includes Luis Enrique Hidalgo, Kyle Johnson, Matt Eronemo and Brodie Steigerwald. The Force have also added WISL veterans and Brazilian twins Gustavo and Guilherme Rodriguez, who were impact players in the league with Sporting Everett, and former Oly Town Artesian star Greg Wolfe.
One of the biggest challenges for the Force, as one might expect in a military city, is player availability for training and games.
“With training times limited to late night,” continued Cashmore, “it is tough for a group of players that work in the Naval Shipyard and have to get up before 4:30 AM. Not to mention that we will lose Vic (Kelmel) to Japan at New Years and Brett Ricigliano to San Diego for most of the season because of their work in the shipyard.”
So with a mix of newcomers and core players and a tough training schedule, expect a few different looks out of the Force early.
“We will be looking to find what partnerships and lines work well with each other,” added Cashmore, whose team opens the WISL season with a very important game against the Tacoma Stars Reserves over a week earlier than the other four teams, but then get a week off to play a friendly against the Major Arena Soccer League’s Tacoma Stars.
“We’ll work on man up/man down and set play situations, and we’ll work on improving every week.”
The Force travel to Tacoma to take on the Stars Reserves in the WISL Opener at the Tacoma Soccer Center on Friday, November 9th at 8:00 PM. They then make a return trip the next weekend to face the MASL Stars on Saturday, November 17th at 7:05 before taking a break for Thanksgiving and returning to action with their home opener on Saturday, December 1st at the always raucous Oly-Pen Sports Center.