Jeff Enquist, New Men's Soccer Coach

SALEM — For Jeff Enquist, Willamette University new men’s soccer coach, a return to the coaching ranks of the Northwest Conference will mean at least one thing to his team. “We’ll be in shape,” Enquist promised. “Fitness will be our first goal. We won’t be soft.”

With a solid core of returning veterans and some promising new recruits, Enquist is hopeful that his team will perform better than the fifth place finished predicted by NWC coaches in the 2004 pre-season poll.

Enquist coached at Pacific for nine seasons in the 1990’s, including six as head coach. For the past several years, he’ had coached the Portland United Club Team and services as PUC’s executive vice president.

With returning players including Don Bressler, A.J. Nash, Kyle Gouveia, Pat Wettach and Brian Lund, Enquist believes he has a solid core to build from. He expects strong leadership from those four, and improved play from the likes of Zach Reeves, Matt Lehman and Reid Bennion (who missed most of last year due to injury).

“I’m expecting a lot from these returning players in terms of leadership and commitment,” said Enquist. “We’re 14 deep with returning players, eighteen deep with some newcomers and we’ll have 33 players out the first week. That’s a deeper team than I expected.”

The Bearcats get an immediate boost from transfer student Dan Park, a junior midfielder and defender who played extensive minutes at Pacific University the pas two years.

The Bearcats also return a pair of experienced goalkeepers in Dane Meier and David Eaton.

Adding to the depth of the team will be players including Tyler Gertulla, Joel Flaschbart, Erik Brudvig, Paul Slavik and Zach Seilo, all returnees who will battle for minutes under a new coaching system.

One area where Enquist will focus is on the middle of the field. This year, he’s considering moving Nash and Bressler to midfield, joining Lund and Bennion to form a solid base in midfield.

At forward, Kyle Gouveia returns for his senior season. But other front line positions are wide open. Expect newcomers including Mike Rodriguez (a national pool player from Portland, OR), Mark Conrad (a forward out of Seattle) and Austin Buell (captain of last year’s Ashland High team) to battle for minutes.

Enquist also brings in Luke Stein from Chicago, Trevor Jones from Portland Grant High, Thomas Cloutier from Westview and goalkeeper Reed Renfrow.

“It may take a few years for my style of coaching to settle in,” said Enquist. “But I am confident we’ll show improvement right away. How far we go really depends on how hard this team wants to work. The talent is there. They just need to have the will to win.”

Jeff Enquist

Jeff Enquist