Scouting and recruiting for a college soccer team depends on skills, relationships and a little bit of luck, according to Cal State Northridge’s men’s and women’s soccer coaches.
Midway through both soccer seasons, the new players from each team have shown promising results, but don’t think that the coaches are going to put it on cruise control just yet.
Drawing on last year’s run to the Sweet 16, men’s soccer is without Willie Sims and Daniel Paladini, who were drafted by Major League Soccer teams, but the current team will still have a lot to prove. The College Soccer News poll ranked the Matadors’ men’s soccer recruiting class 37th overall this season.
Out of the 28 players on the men’s soccer team, 11 are freshmen and seven are straight out of high school. The women’s soccer team has 36 players and 13 of them are freshmen just out of high school.
The men’s soccer team was recently in first place in the Big West thanks to an unbeaten streak of eight games. The women’s soccer team has shown an offensive punch unmatched by others in its conference. Although they failed to qualify for postseason play, they finished second in statistical standings in goals, points and tied for assists leader.
A lot of the recent success has to do with recruitment of the new players, who made significant impacts for both teams.
Freshman Sunghyn Kim leads the men’s soccer team with five goals and 12 points overall.
Men’s soccer coach Terry Davila said he didn’t even scout Kim. Davila gave Kim an opportunity when he walked into his office and it has paid dividends.
For both soccer teams, finding the right players can depend on luck, but also every player must show some sort of skill to offer.
“The number one criteria is if the kid is a fighter,” Davila said. “You get a kid that thinks he’s bigger than the program and then you’re done. We look for players that we think can contribute to the system.”
For the women’s soccer team, freshman goalie Kellie Drenner has shown tremendous strides toward one day becoming a regular starter with a 3-2 record, 24 saves and a team goalkeeper low 1.18 goals against average.
Women’s soccer coach Keith West said sometimes the student athlete would recruit the team. He said high school students want to play for CSUN’s soccer teams because of the relationships they build with some high school teams.
“Once we educate them on what Northridge can offer, we are generally in the hunt to get that kid,” West said.
Both soccer teams also scout city colleges for the right players.
Tessa Binkley, a senior leisure studies major and women’s soccer player, said she happened to be playing for a city college and was seen by Terry Davila, whose team she had been playing for a while.
Nalena Betancourt, junior sociology major and women’s soccer player, said she also joined because of the coaching staff.
“I liked what they’ve done with the program,” Betancourt said.
Both programs scout and recruit only locally due to funding reasons.
“We just don’t have the money yet to bring in out-of-state kids,” West said.
Nonetheless, at least the men’s soccer scouting is still considered in the top 40 nationally and the women’s team continues to show they belong.
“It’s about relationships and people you trust,” Davila said, referring to how he and his assistant coaches scout student athletes.
West added that the basic scouting process takes research, contacting the potential player and finally building that relationship to get a good feel if that player can fit into the system.
“We have a system here that it’s up to you, you have to buy into it,” Davila said. “I don’t think any coach has that much power over a person. As a coach, you just have to give them the objectives, the course, the syllabus.”