LONG CREEK - Fourth-year head soccer coach Mike Wilson said he thinks the Mountaineers have a lot of talent with 14 players currently listed on the roster, but he has a problem.
Out of the 14 soccer players, only seven are "home grown," with the remainder being foreign exchange students from the far corners of the world.
"Right now we are experiencing a language barrier, but we are going to get that worked out," Wilson said. "The majority of the foreign exchange students have played soccer in their home countries and I think we are going to end up having a very good team at Long Creek this year."
Wilson has some players returning to the team including senior Max Corley, juniors Jake Winslow, Travis Brown and Kyle Brush and sophomore Ben Corley who all saw action during the 2001 season.
Max Corley started at left wing last year, with Winslow seeing action as a sweeper, Brown at stopper, Brush playing midfielder and Ben Corley at fullback.
James Norris and Craig Hunt are freshmen members of the team, and Wilson said he expected both of them to make a significant contribution to the team.
Exchange students who are expected to fill a number of starting positions this year include Michael Dreher and Benji Aksoy from Germany and Denis Kurylenko from the Ukraine.
Jorge Sanchez from Mexico is a small player with a lot of speed who has also been looking good in early season workouts, and Elson Silva from Brazil is another player who Wilson will be relying on this season.
Tony Cheung from Hong Kong and Mayumi Wantanabe from Japan, the only girl on the team, complete the Long Creek roster.
"Overall, I think we have a lot of experience and it will just be a matter of getting everyone together so we play as a team," Wilson said. "I wish we could have gotten a few more games this season playing against the La Grande and Baker junior varsity teams like we did last year, but I guess they aren't doing any traveling."
The Mountaineers open their six-game schedule on Thursday, Sept. 19, hosting Ukiah. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m.