Badger soccer teams begin scrimmaging
EPHRAIM—Spring training for football has begun, except that it’s the kind of football that we call “soccer.”
2016 SWAC Coach of the Year Nuno Gourgel and the Snow College men’s and women’s soccer teams are hitting the field long before season play, and even months before the end of the high school year, where many of their players are still attending. The second-year head coach showed off his recruiting prowess with a splendid haul of talented Utah players on National Signing Day earlier this month.
Snow’s final head count for Utah recruits came to 11 women and three men on Signing Day alone. Players from schools all over Utah chose the Badgers over other offers. Gourgel reports that the women’s team now stands at 16 commitments, while at least 14 men are committed to Snow.
Gourgel’s heaviest influence is seen in the international pickups. The coach says that between 8-15 players for the program already recruited are coming from outside the U.S., pending visa applications. The coaching staff is also having success among female international players, adding diversity to the women’s team that was almost exclusively Utahan last season.
The success of women’s soccer at Snow has boosted the recruiting. Having won the conference title and tournament championship in their first season, many women who received offers even to four-year programs opted to take their talents to Snow.
“I think another factor that plays into our recruiting is that when compared to other schools around us,” Gourgel said, “we are more low-budget. Also, the campus atmosphere and experience really helps. We do have a beautiful campus.”
In fact, the college’s brand new soccer field at the Ephraim Sports Complex provides one of the better “stadiums” in the Scenic West Athletic Conference. “There are other developments that we want to make,” Gourgel says. “Those, of course, cost money. Regarding the playing surface, I believe we have the best surface in the conference.”
Men’s soccer didn’t seem to turn many heads for Utah players, only signing two young men out of Lone Peak High in Cedar Hills, and another out of Dixie High in St. George. For Gourgel, that is perfectly ok, and he has his reasons why.
“I don’t think a lot of the local kids understand the commitment it takes to be in a college team,” Gourgel said. “I think the women do. I’m not sure the men do.”
Last season for the men’s team saw four Sanpete natives on the team, but few of them saw significant playing time.
“I had the opportunity to watch the state semifinals last year,” Gourgel said. “I just thought, ‘The gap is too big,’ and I think a lot of that is that kids around here only play high school soccer; they don’t play year-round like other kids around the state.”
Gourgel’s opinion changes dramatically with respect to women’s players in state, however.
“The Sanpete girls that we had last year were phenomenal,” Gourgel said. “They are a huge loss to our team, seeing them go.”
Though unconfirmed by the coach, the team’s Instagram page shows that North Sanpete senior Angela Clayton was signed recently.
Gourgel continues to recruit, now primarily looking outside state borders. Gourgel has traveled to Arizona and Nevada for recruiting trips. He is looking at the possibility of doing some recruiting work in England as well.