The Bethany College men's soccer team is expected to finish seventh in the KCAC

WICHITA — The Bethany College men’s soccer team is expected to fall from sixth to seventh place in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference, which seems legitimate to Swedes head coach Shane Taylor.

“It’s probably fair to be placed seventh this year in the coaches poll,” Taylor said. “We lost our two leading goal scorers and starting center back to graduation last year, and that is difficult to replace.”

The Swedes will have to replace Brazil native Luis Pinto and Texas native Trevor Kistler, who combined to lead Bethany with 13 goals for 2015. Angelo Alessi is also gone after two years with the Swedes, after posting three goals and five assists from his starting center back position. Alessi finished his collegiate career with KCAC All-Conference Second Team honors.

Fortunately, Bethany is returning senior goalkeeper Jose Sanchez, who started in all 19 games in net last season. Sanchez had 97 saves as a junior and 4 shutout wins, which was good enough for KCAC All-Conference Second Team accolades.

Bethany went a respectable 6-4 in conference, and was in the thick of things throughout the entire conference schedule.

Top ranked Oklahoma Wesleyan, who secured 10 of 11 first place votes, won the KCAC with ease last year at 10-0. However, the next five teams were all separated within a game. Back in 2014, Bethany finished third in the conference and made the KCAC postseason tournament.

If the coaches are right, the Swedes are going to take a step back this season.

“The conference is growing stronger in talent and depth, and it will be a challenge for us to break into the top four as we did in 2014.” Taylor said. “I am confident with our coaches, our returning players and our incoming class that we will work hard and put together a respectable season.”

The Swedes had a dynamic freshman duo last season, with Frank Barry and Alex Clark gaining honorable mention honors in the midfield position. Both Barry and Clark will be looked upon to produce with the absence of Pinto, Kistler and Alessi.

Barry, who was recruited out of native country of Greece, put up three goals and three assists, while compiling 11 shots on goal in his first year. The 6-foot-4 attacking midfielder provides a big, physical frame that can cause trouble for opposing teams.

Clark posted five goals and an assist, while firing off 12 shots on goal last season. Clark is originally from Auckland, New Zealand, and is majoring in Business Marketing.

Bethany opens up competitive play on Aug. 27 at home against William Woods University.

Contact Gallagher Martin by email at gmartin@mcphersonsentinel.com and follow him on Twitter @GMartinSentinel