MEN’S SOCCER: Wanted: Starting goalkeeper

Michael Casagrande

Only eight days separate Western from its season opener against Oral Roberts. As the days pass, the competition for the starting goalkeeper is intensifying.

It is a three-way battle to earn the job. Junior Matt Latimer, redshirt freshman Ryan Simpson and freshman Kyle Schroeder are vying for the position.

Coach David Holmes said the three are in a dead heat. The final decision may not come until after the first few matches. Holmes said he would wait to make the final call until “it becomes clear.”

Holmes said he would like to pick the starter and stick with him for the whole season.

“I think we have three good goalkeepers,” Holmes said. “They all have different strengths and weaknesses and they are in a battle for number one.”

Latimer brings the only collegiate experience to the battle. Last season, Latimer played in two games and stopped the only shot that came his way.

Latimer was the starting goalkeeper at Lipscomb University for one season before coming to Western in 2002.

After taking a year away from the game, he missed the competition. The injury to Sattler was the opportunity Latimer used to get back on the field.

Sophomore defender Wade Roepke moved to starting goalkeeper while Latimer was a backup.

Just days after the season ended last fall, Latimer tore his anterior cruciate ligament in a pick-up basketball game. With the surgery and rehabilitation behind him, Latimer is back to full strength.

Holmes said he likes Latimer’s maturity and ability to overcome the knee injury.

“Matt has overcome a lot of adversity and he’s done it with a smile on his face,” Holmes said. “He has worked extremely hard to be in the position he is in right now.”

Simpson, who played for Glasgow High School, had the opportunity to learn from Sattler while redshirting last season.

Holmes said Simpson has a lot of upside, but still has to work on his practice skills.

“You might call Ryan a game player,” Holmes said. “When you see him get into game action, you see the best from Ryan Simpson. He is still developing the training habits and work ethic that might be necessary to maximize his potential.”

In Schroeder, the Toppers have a proven winner. At Coppell High School in Coppell, Texas, Schroeder set a school record by recording 18 shutouts in 2003.

“Kyle is young,” Holmes said. “I think Kyle reminds us a lot of Daryl (Sattler) when he came in.”

Schroeder said he chose Western in part because he was told he would have an opportunity to compete for the starting job his freshman season.

Schroeder is working on his concentration to accomplish that goal.

“You need to make sure, even if you do get scored on, that you have that short-term memory,” he said. “You need to forget about it as soon as it happens and move on to the next shot.”

Reach Michael Casagrande at [email protected].