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On the rise

If someone were to graph the progress of the Jamestown College soccer programs the line would be on the uptick. In the last couple of weeks, the program -- which dates back to the mid-1990s on the women's side -- hired its first ever assistant co...

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John M. Steiner / The Sun Jamestown College's Kayla Byle is one reason the Jamestown College soccer programs are on the rise. Byle was steady in goal last season for the Jimmie women as a freshman.

If someone were to graph the progress of the Jamestown College soccer programs the line would be on the uptick.

In the last couple of weeks, the program -- which dates back to the mid-1990s on the women's side -- hired its first ever assistant coach in Jeremy Wood.

Prior to that, the men's program -- which is beginning its fourth season -- added a junior varsity squad, or reserve team, in soccer lingo. Head coach Phillip Bohn projects that the men's program could grow to upwards of 40 players when preseason training begins early next month.

"We definitely feel like we have a lot of positive momentum right now and a big part of that is the massive commitment from the school into the soccer program," Bohn said. "Another big thing that we feel really good about is that we're bringing in high-class, high-character kids.

"Some of them might not be ready to step in and play 90 minutes, but they are ready to step on campus and give something back to the school."

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Things are going in the right direction on the pitch, but questions remain for both teams.

The men went a program-best 8-7-3 last year, but were hit hard by graduation. Four of the top five goal-scorers ran out of eligibility, but talented sophomore Dominic O'Connor, one of many skilled international players on the team, returns. He scored eight goals last year as a freshman.

Bohn is high on both returning goalies -- Thomas Cooke and Andrew Jones. Creighton Bachmeier, a versatile senior from Minot, also returns. As does center back Matt Balshaw.

A big recruiting class that could climb as high as 30 will bolster the roster. The newcomers include seven or eight international players, but there's also a nice local flavor with four North Dakotans.

"One unique aspect a lot of the players have that are coming in is that they can play multiple positions," Bohn said. "Not many of these new players can be pigeonholed into one spot and that's going to help us a lot just in terms of the type of competition we'll have within our roster, but also what we're able to do in terms of lineups and match-ups."

Much like last season when Bohn saw a big jump forward for the men's program, he has the same feel for this year's women's squad.

The women did not have much depth last season, but still won five games, which was more than the previous two seasons combined.

They do return one of the top goal-scorers in the region in Hannah Langseth. The Fargo native banged in 15 goals last season as a sophomore.

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Goalie Kayla Byle also is back. She was peppered last season, but help is on the way.

"With the girls we have coming in, combined with the girls we have coming back, I do feel like there is the potential for a massive turnaround," Bohn said. "Not just in our record, but in the demeanor, competitiveness and belief in what they can do.

"There's really positive momentum just in terms of how we're doing things and ultimately the goal is to see that reflected in the results."

The Jimmies kick off preseason training on Aug. 2, with their first scrimmage coming about two weeks later. Bohn is still trying to add players to the program, but feels good about where both teams stand now.

"The kids we're bringing in love the sport. It's a big part of their lives. It means a lot to them," Bohn said. "All of those things are very important for us as we continue to build both programs the right way into the future."

Sun sports editor Dave Selvig can be reached at (701) 952-8460 or by e-mail at dselvig@jamestownsun.com

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