TThe South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC) men’s soccer team certainly had an international dimension this season, with five players, including the Clippers’ top two scorers, from outside the United States.
Second year students Francisco Ojeda (Buenos Aries, Argentina) and Saloum Malang (Republic of The Gambia) and first year students Yuta Shimazu (Sanda City, Japan), Dylan McKay (Franschhoek, South Africa) and Joshua Coetzee (Durban) , South Africa) have all contributed greatly to the South Puget Sound Community College season, totaling 43 starts with eight goals and two assists.
“Each of these players certainly has their own style of play. I can honestly say that none of these players are similar in terms of their style of play,” said SPSCC head coach Jeremy Richtmyre. “That being said, just like the team chemistry, these players have adapted well to the style of play that I asked them to employ. I think one of the great things about this game is that although skill levels, strategies and resources change from place to place, the game is always played more or less the same all over the world. This can be a powerful unifying force no matter where you come.
Despite the change of scenery, Ojeda and Shimazu settled into their roles, ending the season as the community college’s main offensive threats.
“Coaching Yuta and Cisco has been a pleasure this season. Cisco is a bit of a joker, but when he gets serious he’s dangerous in possession, ”said Richtmyre. “Yuta, on the other hand, is much more reserved, but he’s a player who demands respect from all who come up against him.”
Ojeda was the Clippers’ top scorer with four goals, the second-year forward appearing in 13 games, making eight starts.
“The part of Cisco’s gaming that impresses me the most is its work ethic and ability to consistently do the work required to be successful in games,” said Richtmyre. “When he’s on the pitch he’s one of the hardest working guys out there and always has his eye on goal.”
Shimazu was just behind Ojeda this season in goals scored, adding three in SPSCC’s 14 games this season at center.
“(Yuta is) perhaps the most technical player I’ve had the privilege of coaching,” said Richtmyre. “Yuta’s ability to own the ball, even with several defenders all over him, is better than anyone I have ever coached. He is able to provide a spark at any moment.
While Ojeda and Shimazu provided the offensive punch over the year, Coetzee played a big role in the baseline, appearing in 11 games, all of which were starts and ended with an assist.
“It didn’t take too long,” Coetzee said of adjusting to his new surroundings. “I think after a few pre-season friendlies I had learned a lot about how, especially forwards, play here. But football is a process. It’s not linear, so it’s always changing and I always have to adapt and learn new things.
Olympia was just the last place Coetzee played as the defender toured extensively across Europe in 2019, playing in the Netherlands, Belgium and France.
“South Puget Sound has been a good experience so far and I look forward to staying with the program for another year,” Coetzee said. “There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that not everyone sees and I would keep an eye on all sports programs in South Puget Sound in the future and would recommend South Puget Sound as a well-rounded school that treats their students well. .
“I didn’t consider myself a Clipper until I understood the environment and culture of South Puget Sound,” Coetzee said. “I would now call myself a Clipper, someone who is actively involved in the community. My story is still in the making, I think there are bigger things to come and I intend to leave a legacy in South Puget Sound.
Of the five, Malang was the only returning player, having been a member of the 2019 Clippers squad. The forward has played 30 games, making 21 career starts during his two-year college career.
“I think the positive attitude they brought with them is what I will remember best,” said Richtmyre. “Saloum always has a smile on his face and he’s a nice young man. Yuta has been a model of consistency from day one, missing only one or two practices all season. Cisco always tries to lighten the mood by joking around with the guys. Joshua is a bit calm, but he’s smart and a natural leader on the pitch. And Dylan did everything I ever asked him without asking a question – just a great guy all around. Each of them seems to have adapted quite well to life here in Olympia.