The distinguishing trait for the Harper College men's soccer team this fall is its work ethic.
Three weeks into practice, coach Jason Diebold is praising his team's preparedness.
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"When they get into tight situations, it's not (going to be) a team that falls apart," he said.
Getting a team on the same page at the junior college level can sometimes be difficult, especially early in the season. But Diebold suggests his team is "already jelling. I have a really good feeling about this team."
After last season's 3-11 finish, Diebold has implemented a new 3-5-2 formation in preseason. The reason for the formation change is because of the team's midfield depth.
The tactical change may not be permanent, according to the coach. But no matter the formation, Diebold calls the talent level on the roster better than what he's seen in the last five years.
Last year's starter in goal, Sean Cox (Conant), is back for his sophomore year. Diebold calls him a "bona fide leader."
Other familiar faces include Andy Criollo (who was effective in the 2011 season) along with Eric Aylia and Ramon Gonzalez. Gonzalez will see most of his time coming off the bench; the well-rounded player can play up top or on the backline.
Diebold also expects the freshman class to contribute. Starsky Carella will patrol the Harper midfield along with Ryan Murphy.
Of Murphy, Diebold said he's "a viable (goal-scoring) threat. There's not enough good things to say about him."
Another change Harper will incur this season is the schedule. Diebold has trimmed the number of regular-season games the team will play to 10.
Diebold has high expectations for his hard-working group.
"I'd like to see the national tournament this year with this team," he said.