ASHLAND — In year one, the Southern Oregon University men's soccer team laid a precocious foundation.
In year two, the Raiders set the bar high by going 9-2-2 in the Cascade Conference and just missing out on a title.
Going into year three, head coach Biniam Afengus has shown that his team is already an attractive destination for some of the state's top talent.
Afenegus has introduced seven newcomers who were with the Raiders when they started practice in earnest on Monday morning. The class includes five freshmen: Andrew DePaepe, Renee Resendez, Junior Rivas, Gavenn Saftich and Lucas Wagar.
The other two, Esteban Castaneda and Wesley Mukerinkindi, are international players who have transferred in as sophomores-to-be.
Resendez and Rivas are the Oregonians of the group. They came to Ashland via McMinnville High, a pair of all-state performers who combined to record 32 goals and 31 assists last season for a team that appeared in the OSAA Class 6A state championship game.
"We're very excited about these guys, and especially being able to bring in in-state players who we feel can come in and contribute right away in certain aspects," Afenegus said. "Overall, this class has made us more technically skilled and athletic."
They'll join a group of 23 returning players, including nine starters, off a team that went 11-3-3 overall in 2016.
SOU's first counting game of the season is Aug. 25 against The Master's (Calif.).