“I came from a (program) that was very successful,” Desha said. “They played at a high level in every game they played. I want a high energy-filled game.”
The newly announced head coach for Ottawa University’s men’s soccer program comes in after a successful career as an assistant head coach for the men’s soccer team at Columbia College, Mo. There, the team had a .744 winning percentage from 2009-2012, and last season advanced to the second round of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics National Tournament. They finished No. 12 in the NAIA postseason polls with a 14-2-6 record during that season. Apart from his job as assistant coach, Desha also helped establish the women’s soccer program at Columbia College in 2012.
Bruce Tate, assistant athletic director and head women’s basketball coach at Ottawa University, said he has high expectations that Desha can instill his winning ways into the players.
“He is a down-to-earth, very humble guy,” Tate said. “There is no doubt in our mind that he can continue what (former coach) Bob Casper rebuilt here for our soccer program.”
Desha steps into a program that has seen much of its own success over the past few years. Casper, now an assistant women’s soccer coach at the University of Wyoming, led the program from 2007-2012 and finished with a 50-56-7 record during his tenure. The Braves accumulated five consecutive winning seasons in conference play under Casper. Their best season came last year when the team won the most games since the 2004 season. They finished with a 12-7-1 record and finished tied for second in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference with a 7-2 conference record.
“The foundation has been laid for the group to improve,” Desha said. “I hope I can build on what the previous coach has done.”
The Braves return seven seniors to the squad and, Desha said, the roster has 27 players on it.
Desha said he plans for his team to take the field the evening of Aug. 14. The team has two scrimmages against Johnson County Community College 3 p.m. Aug. 18 in Ottawa and Independence Community College 4 p.m. Aug. 20 in Independence before its Black and Gold Scrimmage scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Aug. 28. Desha said the Black and Gold Scrimmage is a tentative event, but it will be a deciding factor as to who will start for the team.
“[The scrimmage] will be an indicator for me who the top 15 will be off of the 27-man roster,” Desha said. “It is an opportunity for all the players to make an impact.”
The battle for the starting 15 spots on the team is not the only thing that is wide open this season for the Braves. Desha said Ottawa has a good opportunity in the KCAC this year.
“The conference is wide open in terms of the top three spots,” Desha said. “It really opens it up for some entertaining conference games.”
Ottawa opens the season 4 p.m. Aug. 30 at Avila University, Kansas City, Mo. The team’s first conference game is 8:30 p.m. Oct. 5 against Bethany College in Lindsborg.