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Oregon Tech Soccer vs Walla Walla

Senior Joey Driessen is one of three key players who return for the Oregon Tech men's soccer side this season. He is one of two foreign players this year for the Hustlin' Owls.

What does the Oregon Tech men’s soccer season hold?

Good question.

Brandon Porter has familiarity with most of the veterans, but the entire program could see a shift since the veteran women’s coach has added the men’s side to his efforts this fall after former coach Matt Munhall accepted a position at Adams State University in Colorado.

“This is a new opportunity for everyone,” Porter says.

“These guys all get a fresh start, and I don’t mean this in a negative way, but we will learn to be disciplined. You can set yourself free to accomplish what you want to. This group can thrive on discipline, structure and organization.

“The men will flourish with it.”

Unprepared, however, it could be a struggle.

Three key seniors led the list of veterans who will attempt to get the Hustlin’ Owls back to the playoffs for a second straight season — Joey Driessen, Brennan Gazdik and Cade Roske.

Driessen and Gazdik both are three-time all-Cascade Collegiate Conference choices.

Daniel Blessinger, Nick Lynch, Lucas Hale and Devin Lutz are the other seniors on the roster, one which includes five juniors, four sophomores and nine freshmen. Among the juniors is returning goalkeeper Mitchell Jillson.

“I’m excited about the opportunity,” Porter says of working with the men’s club.

“I really want to have both (the men’s and women’s) programs develop under one brand of Oregon Tech soccer. The same goals and trajectory.”

When the Owls reported for practice earlier this month, Porter says everyone was on the same page.

“It will be difficult,” he says. “The key will be time management with the coaching staff, but the players are supportive of the change.

“There are a lot of unknowns, but we will continue to trend upward for more consistency. I have inherited a program with a lot of pieces and we will br trying to fit everything together.”

OWL HOOTS

■ The men open their season with a home match at 3 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 21, against Simpson University.

■ Tech had 12 men’s-women’s doubleheaders, all in Cascade Collegiate Conference play, including home battles with Southern Oregon, Providence, Carroll College, Eastern Oregon, College of Idaho, Multnomah and Warner Pacific.

■ Clayton Maves, who played for OIT, will join the men’s coaching staff along with Juan Villareal. Villreal will be in his second season assisting with the Hustlin’ Owls.

■ OIT has two foreign players on the men’s side — senior midfielder Driessen (Oegstgeest, Netherlands) and freshman defender Alessandro Zago (Milnanse, Italy).

■ Freshmen Cade O’Neill (Redmond) and Kyle Wright (Boise, Idaho) are expected to be impact players and both won all-state honors as high school seniors.

■ Tech had 18 players back from a year ago, and lost 15 players including all-league pick Lodewijk Bloemzaad.

■ Due to forfeits, last year’s record was adjusted to 0-13 in the conference, and 1-16-1 overall. That included a 1-6-0 home record.

■ Men’s soccer started at Oregon Tech in 2008, and the program has a 53-131-11 overall record, including an 0-3 record in the postseason.