Veteran Mustang Soccer Team Faces Tough Conference Slate
Part of the reason for the optimism is the return of all but two players from the one that went 11-7-2 last season. The Mustangs made it to the state playoffs for the fifth year in a row, finishing the season as the seventh-ranked team in 1-A.
"This is the largest group of seniors (eight) I've had," Shamberger says. "This team could be as good as the ones in 2000 and 2004, depending on things like injuries and team chemistry."
The Mustangs were 6-5-1 last season in a Yadkin Valley Conference that has produced the last two state champions in Jordan-Matthews and Thomas-ville. The Mustangs defeated Thomasville 2-1 in regular-season action last year.
Forward Raul Chavez (15 goals) is one of three returning senior all-conference and all-region players.
The others are defender Edwin De La Cruz and goalkeeper/forward Eric Diaz.
Also returning for their final year are midfielders Joaquin Diaz, Ozzie Castillo and Tim Liles, and defender Omar Gonzalez.
Shamberger also enjoys the benefit of an experienced group of juniors in forward-midfielder Carlos Avila, midfielders Diego Garcia and Antonio Bernal, and versatile Bernardo Gonzalez.
Sophomore Manuel Mendoza is expected to fill the big shoes of George Domingo, an all-conference and all-region player, who took care of the sweeper position for most of his four years. Another sophomore, Rogelio Catalan, is expected to fill one of the other defensive positions.
The Mustangs are again gearing up for the conference with scrimmages and non-conference matches against mostly higher classification teams. They open the season at home on Monday with a 6:30 p.m. match against 4-A Scotland County.
"This has always been a fun group to coach," says Shamberger, who has been with the program from its inception. "It should be no different this year."
Ben Shamberger, son of the Mustang coach, recently spent two weeks in Brazil on a marketing internship that included coaching the Charlotte Eagles (USL) under-17 youth team.
A member of the 1999-2001 Mustang squads, he is a fifth-year senior at Appalachian State.
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