GLENDALE — During the first week of practice, Joe Agoston issued some strong words to each of his players.
The veteran Glendale Community College men’s soccer coach wanted to make sure his way of doing things resonated within each player looking to make the team a month prior to the season beginning.
“I told them it’s about having the right attitude and that they have to earn a spot on the team,” said Agoston, whose team finished 5-13-3, 5-8-3 in the Western State Conference South Division for sixth place last season. “Nothing will be a given.
“Just make sure you can go out there in practice and prove you can be able to contribute something to the team. I want them all to overachieve. A strong team-first mentality, morale and good chemistry will enable them to overachieve.”
Agoston and the Vaqueros will start their season at 7 p.m. Tuesday against visiting Irvine Valley College in a nonconference match at Sartoris Field. The Vaqueros will field a team of about 23 players and will seek to record their first winning season since 2003, when they went 12-5-4 and last appeared in the Southern California Regionals.
Glendale, which last won a conference championship in 2000, will look for its incoming class of freshmen to blend in with the returners and turn around the team’s fortunes.
Agoston said he’s eager to see how the Vaqueros develop throughout the season.
“I’d much rather have mediocre players who overachieve than big stars who underachieve,” Agoston said. “We’ll see where things tend to go after the first few games.
“We do have some depth and that will give us options, too.”
Among those expected to battle for the starting goalkeeping spot will be sophomore Julian Ortega and freshmen Julio Solis and Christian Chavarria.
The Vaqueros will likely not have any returning defenders, leading them to rely on a crop of freshmen that include Erik Adamyan, Michael Ajemian, Raimond Baghoomian (Crescenta Valley High), Jose Catalan, Nelson Hidalgo, Abraham Orozco and Andrew Perez.
The midfielders will likely be sophomores Abdul-Kareem Fadlalah, Gor Grigoryan (Crescenta Valley), David Martirosyan (Glendale) and Vartan Saskissian. They will be joined by freshmen Vladimir Gonzalez, Allen Grakasian, Adrian Leal, Steven Munoz and Jose Portillo.
Among those looking to receive playing time at forward are freshmen Grigoryan, Saskissian, Gonzalez and freshmen Diego Hidalgo, Francisco Lemus and Pablo Sotillo (Crescenta Valley).
Ortega said the Vaqueros would like to end their playoff drought.
“That’s one of our main objectives,” Ortega said. “We haven’t been to the playoffs in such a long time.
“We want to work on that goal and we know it’s going to come down to being disciplined.”
The Vaqueros will play their first four matches at home before playing a road contest against L.A. Harbor on Sept. 13.
Glendale will begin conference at 7 p.m. on Sept. 17 against visiting College of the Canyons and will conclude the regular season at 5 p.m. on Nov. 15 at home against Citrus.