SBCC will need time to blend as a unit

SBCC’s John Sisterson has assembled an international-heavy roster for the 2014 men’s soccer season.

This year’s team features 27 players from 12 countries, including eight from England. Seven players are back from previous squads, including 6-5 defender Mehdi Badache of Tunisia, Richard Caine and Barnaby Hitchcock of England and midfielder Efrain Olvera from Mexico. Olvera played on the Final Four team that went 18-2-4.

There are two local players on the team in forward Omar Montalvo (Dos Pueblos alum), a second-team All-WSC choice from last year and defender Kevin Shaw of San Marcos.

Top newcomers include forward Gonzalo Jimenez and midfielders Enrique Fernandez and Erik Winnberg.

“I think we’ll get leadership from Richie and Barnaby, along with center back Haydn Dickinson,” said Sisterson. “We should be good on defense and offense with goal-scorers like Gonzalo, Callum Challinor and Albi Skendi.

“This squad seems to understand the game. There’s a lot of creativity in midfield and they’ve worked hard as a unit.”

Caine, a returner from last year, says it will take a while for the international players to blend as a unit.

“It’s difficult sometimes when you face another team that’s been playing together for a long time,” he said. “But as the year goes on, we’ll get more cohesive and start building our confidence. We have to make sure everyone’s on the same page and we all understand our roles.”

Sisterson enters his eighth season as head coach and he’s four wins shy of 100 in his SBCC men’s career. The English native is 96-38-19 for a winning percentage of .690. He’s guided teams to three WSC titles (2008, 2009, 2011) and a State Final Four appearance in 2011.

The Vaqueros went 11-9 last year and took second in the Western State Conference at 11-7.

Sisterson said the biggest key to success is hard work.

“If they work hard in practice, work hard in the classroom and get things done ahead of time, the games become a little easier,” he noted. “I like the old saying, and it’s one of our mottos: ‘Hard work beats talent if talent doesn’t work hard.’ We try to instill that.”