John Brown picked fourth by league coaches

August 7, 2019


Photo by John Brown University

Oklahoma City, Okla. – The John Brown University men’s soccer squad was selected to finish fourth in the Sooner Athletic Conference, per the release of the 2019 SAC Men’s Soccer Coaches Preseason Poll by the league office on Wednesday (Aug. 7) afternoon.

1.Science & Arts (Okla.) (5)76
2.Mid-America Christian (Okla.) (3)67
3.Oklahoma City (2)63
4.John Brown (Ark.)56
5.Wayland Baptist (Texas)49
6.Southwestern Christian (Okla.)46
7.Texas Wesleyan29
8.Central Christian (Kan.)28
9.Southwestern A.G. (Texas)21
10.Okla. Panhandle State21

Despite not winning the Sooner Athletic regular season or tournament title, perennial favorite Science & Arts (Okla.) was picked to wear the conference crown with 76 points and five first-place votes. The Drovers reached the SAC tournament championship match and finished second in the 2018 regular season table.

Upstart defending Sooner Athletic tournament champion Mid-America Christian (Okla.) owned the No. 2 spot in the poll, picking up 67 points and three first-place votes. The Evangels captured its first-ever tournament crown last year, prevailing over USAO in penalties after a 1-1 draw through double overtime. The Evangels were the lone SAC representative in last year’s NAIA National Championships Opening Round. MACU bested Kansas Wesleyan, 2-1, before falling in the Round of 16 to eventual National Champion, Central Methodist (Mo.).

Oklahoma City reeled in 63 points and a pair of first-place votes to stand third in the poll, and just seven points behind the Stars, John Brown secured the fourth spot with 56 points.

The 2018 campaign started promising for the Golden Eagles as John Brown posted three consecutive wins to begin the year, including a dramatic 1-0 win over No. 19 MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) in the season opener. Allowing just one goal against in the first three matches, JBU took its undefeated record to Orange Beach, Ala., where it took on the chin a pair of 4-1 losses, including to No. 3 William Carey (Miss.). The rest of the non-conference slate finished with a draw and a loss, John Brown’s first loss to Oklahoma Wesleyan since 2013, snapping JBU’s four-game unbeaten streak over the Eagles.

In conference play, John Brown suffered three losses in its first five matches, but also picked up a win over Science & Arts at Alumni Field. A big road win at Southwestern Christian, 2-1, was quickly negated with a tough 1-0 loss at Central Christian before JBU finished the regular season with a pair of wins by a combined 11-2 score over Texas Wesleyan and Southwestern A.G.

In a grudge match, John Brown pulled off its second win of the season at Southwestern Christian in the Sooner Athletic tournament quarterfinals, but its season was ended in the semifinals with a 4-1 loss at USAO as the Drovers avenged its earlier loss at Alumni Field.

Wayland Baptist (Texas) posted 49 points in the fifth slot, while Southwestern Christian (Okla.) landed in the sixth spot, recording 46 points. Texas Wesleyan (29) stood in seventh, while Central Christian (Okla.), Southwestern A.G. (Texas) and Oklahoma Panhandle State were the remaining teams in the poll, with 28, 21 and 15 points, respectively. Panhandle State will take to the pitch for the first time this season.

Head coach Brenton Benware, who enters his third season commanding the sidelines at Alumni Field, welcomes back returns 13 letterwinners from last year’s squad and will hope that bringing in 10 new faces to the program will help ensure a winning season. With the losses of All-Conference selections in Ryan WilliamsConner Haney and Giovani Bejarano, the Golden Eagles are certain to feature a number of new faces in the starting 11 as JBU returns just over a quarter of its scoring output from a season ago. Matriculation hit the back line just as hard, but the Golden Eagles will feature its two primary goal-stoppers patrolling the line in 2019.

Fortunately, the Golden Eagles received good news as of late – former NAIA All-America honorable mention and Sooner Athletic Player of the Year Kelvin Omondi will be making his way back to Siloam Springs. In his last two seasons, the Kenyan has tallied 31 goals and totaled 72 points. Also, the third-leading scorer on the team will return as Micah Herrmann comes back for a sophomore campaign after posting six goals and six assists (18 points). Two of those six goals proved to be game-winners.

On the back line, JBU will enjoy the return of sophomore Adrian Immel, the SAC Freshman of the Year, to help improve the defensive effort. Also returning for a final year is senior Ryan Smith, whose 2018 season was cut short due to injuries. John Brown will undoubtedly look for a strong second season from returning local product Jack Bos as well.In goal, senior Britt Wisener returns for his swan song at John Brown, as the Houston, Texas native posted career numbers in 2018 in his real first season of action. The 6-foot-4 keeper recorded a trio of clean sheets last year and stopped over 70 percent of shots fired on frame as the Golden Eagles yielded just 1.76 goals-against per game last year. In a heroic effort, Wisener posted a career-best 10 saves at Southwestern Christian in a 2-1 victory last year.

John Brown kicks off the 2019 campaign this afternoon in Texarkana with a match against the Eagles at 5 p.m. This matchup is coming off the heels of a 4-1 JBU win over Texas A&M in 2017. The Golden Eagles will then return home for a match later in the week, Friday, in its home opener as the Blue and Gold welcome Lyon (Ark.) to Alumni Field just in time for freshman move-in day on campus. JBU is 4-0 all-time against the Scots in Siloam Springs.