MLC men look to improve

NEW ULM The Martin Luther College men’s soccer team is looking to improve on a 5-14 (4-10 Upper Midwest Athletic Conference) record from the 2013 season.

The Knights return seven starters, but they lost several goal-scorers from last year’s team.

Senior midfielder and captain Steve Roekle will be essential in leading a Knights team which will be looking for a spark. Roekle led the Knights with five assists last year and received Honorable Mention All-UMAC recognition. The team will look to him to get more involved in goal scoring this year as well as facilitating.

“Steve is a very fine player,” head coach Paul Koelpin said. “He has a lot of experience, he is a very good ball-toucher, a very good passer, he is quick, and he is able to maintain control very well. Steve is a major part of what we are going to do.”

Senior Isaiah Horn and sophomore Jacob Sheppard also return as starting midfielders from last year’s team.

Sophomore Aaron Markgraf is MLC’s top returning scorer with six goals and 14 total points last season. He and Roekle will look to give UMAC defenses trouble together as a top scoring duo.

Roekle’s co-captain, senior goalkeeper Eric Hahn, returns in goal for the Knights for his third year. He finished third in the UMAC with 146 saves and a goals against average of 3.11 last season. He will have a young, inexperienced defense in front of him.

“Eric (Hahn) brings experience and size back into the goal for us,” Koelpin said.

Junior Micah Koelpin started all 19 games on defense last year is the lone returning starter on defense. He will need to anchor this team’s young defense.

“We need to find a couple of guys to step in and really form a solid defensive unit,” Koelpin said.

The Knights have a few new faces who will be needed to make an immediate impact. Freshman Ethan Schultz from Luther Preparatory School comes in looking to make an impact at midfield. Schultz’s sister, Bethany Schultz, is in the top three all-time in goals, points and assists in the MLC women’s soccer record book.

Colin Bahmer, a transfer, and Elijah Kroll will also be needed to make contributions right away.

“We have a good group of freshman this year which has made this the deepest of any team in my four years playing here,” Roekle said.

The Knights were picked to finish fifth in the UMAC preseason coach’s poll, but they are looking to break the top four and return to the UMAC postseason tournament for the first time in a few years.

“We were picked fifth in the preview, but we believe that we are a top four team,” Roekle said.

MLC kicked off its season with a 5-0 loss against Wisconsin Lutheran College on Sunday.

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