Angelina College Soccer Teams Kicking Off New Season: Home Opener, Tailgate Party on Tuesday

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For Angelina College’s soccer teams, topping the 2022 season is going to be a lofty goal indeed. Both the Roadrunners and Lady Roadrunners finished with national rankings, with the men qualifying for the national tournament before falling to the eventual national champions.

Toss in a pair of brand-new head coaches, and it’s an even bigger challenge.

And both teams are ready to face it head-on.

AC’s teams will host their home opener on Tuesday in a doubleheader against Paris College, with the Lady Roadrunners kicking off at 5 p.m. and the No. 7 Roadrunners following at 7:30 p.m. at the soccer complex on the AC campus. To help get the season off to a roaring start, the college will host a bevy of kickoff events, including a tailgate party from 3-7 p.m. complete with music, games, and prizes, not to mention free hot dogs.

All those activities to celebrate the rushed start to the season – an issue all teams in Region XIV face. Students don’t arrive on campus until early August, and teams have mere days to put the squads together before the season begins.

New men’s head coach Martin Melchor said building cohesion comes down to crash courses in familiarity – with expectations, the coaches’ system, and the new teammates. His Roadrunners were ranked No. 7 in the NJCAA Division I pre-season polls.

The No. 7 Angelina College Roadrunner men’s soccer team, shown here in a Media Day team photo, host their home opener on Tuesday as part of a women’s/men’s doubleheader against Paris College. Kickoff for the women is 5 p.m., with the men following at 7:30 p.m. (Gary Stallard/AC Athletics photo)
Angelina College’s Rochaine Baker, shown here in a 2022 match, leads the No. 7 Roadrunners into Tuesday’s home-opening doubleheader against Paris College. The Lady Roadrunners kick off at 5 p.m., with the men following at 7:30 p.m. (Gary Stallard/AC Athletics photo)

“First and foremost, when everyone gets here, you want to make sure they have an idea of how we went them to play,” Melchor said. “You want to make sure the players know their roles.

“You’ve got to spend a lot more time together off the field, whether it’s talking to each other, watching film, meetings, whatever. We make sure we’re all on the same page and speaking the same language. That’s priority No. 1, because we know the soccer pieces will come in time.”

New Lady Roadrunner head coach Orlando Cervantes had an added challenge as he arrived late in the summer – typically too late for any real recruiting for any coach. He’s been scouring the country for players, and the talent he discovered combined with the talent he has returning from the 2022 squad has him believing this team is capable of some big surprises for anyone doubting it.

“The girls who are here have been determined to get everything together in time for a good season,” Cervantes said. “They’ve worked hard to help the new players get adjusted while we kept adding new faces. They understand it’s been a difficult situation, and they’ve proven every day they’re a great group of kids.”

Cervantes mentioned the leadership the returning players are providing as a key to helping the team jell as quickly as possible.

“Of course, the chemistry is important, so these sophomores are understanding how to lead players and show them their winning ways,” Cervantes said. “They’ve been through all the tedious preparation, and now they’re ready to get out and play.”

Admission to all AC Athletics events is free, but those wanting to participate in the tailgating are asked to register through the following link: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1e8W48v6q7Bz-sve306eCVpgaQdaFMFZPDYwplKLUSHk/edit?ts=64f100ef

The email address for AC’s Sports Information Director is gstallard@angelina.edu.

Gary Stallard
Sports Information Director Gary Stallard, who also serves as a Liberal Arts Instructor, begins his eleventh season with Angelina College. Following a career as a U.S. Marine, Stallard completed his bachelor’s degree at Stephen F. Austin University, where he majored in English and Journalism. For more than 16 years, he has worked as a sports writer/columnist/photographer for the Lufkin Daily News; he continues to contribute free-lance articles on occasion. Stallard has won several awards for writing, including the Golden Hoops Award for basketball writing in 2003, Regional Sports Writer of the Year in 2004, and the Texas Press Association’s first-place award for column writing in 2007 and in 2014. He has also done basketball, football and baseball radio and live streaming play-by- play and color commentary for an ESPN affiliate. Currently Stallard serves as play-by-play broadcaster for AC basketball, baseball and softball games. Prior to arriving at Angelina College, Stallard taught English at Lufkin High School for four years. He currently teaches Developmental Writing classes at AC. He and his wife Susan live in Lufkin.

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