Stay tuned: The mine soccer team begins spring training

The rest of the country may be in the grip of March madness, but the Colorado School of Mines has soccer fever.

On March 14, the Orediggers made their first appearance on the turf since their appearance in the NCAA Division II title game in December, where they lost 41-14 to the Ferris State Bulldogs.

The road back to the championship game in McKinney, Texas begins with the Orediggers’ 13 scheduled spring drills and their April 22 intrasquad scrimmage.

“It’s all about developing our younger players and preparing and acclimating those guys for the fall,” said coach Brandon Moore of the spring season.

Pick up where you left off

The Orediggers have been making headlines in the postseason since fans last saw them play at McKinney.

Moore, the Orediggers’ freshman year head coach, was named Division II National Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association. He is the first Mines coach to receive this honor, having led Mines to a 13-3 season and the program’s first title game appearance.

Senior quarterback John Matocha, who has one more year of eligibility and intends to return for the 2022-23 season, was named Male College Athlete of the Year by the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame. Matocha is the third oredigger in any sport to receive this honor.

In addition, Matocha received the 2022 Harlon Hill Award — the Division II equivalent of the Heisman trophy — at a ceremony in Little Rock in January. He was announced the winner just before the title game on December 17.

Other Orediggers received honors after the season, including center Matt Armendariz, running back Michael Zeman and cornerback Mason Pierce.

With the 2022 season behind them, the Orediggers are moving full steam ahead.

Mines has signed at least 32 new freshmen and one grad transfer for the fall, including eight Coloradans.

They include Columbine defensive lineman Will Adams, Denver South quarterback Joseph Capra and Mullen offensive lineman Hayden Woodruff. Additionally, senior running back Noah Roper, an Erie, Colorado native, is transferring from Dartmouth to play his senior year at Mines.

Moore said he and his team are excited for the fall and commented, “We have a great product here in Golden, Colorado. We are just looking forward to the season and the prospects to come.”

Hope springs forever

Spring practice and the game are likely a taste of what’s to come when the Orediggers kick off their 2023 season on Aug. 31 against Grand Valley State.

However, they will do so without several Impact players from last year’s roster.

While Matocha and senior linebacker Nolan Reeve have another year of eligibility, Moore noted how the Orediggers lost Zeman — their record-breaking running back — and big receivers Tristan Smith, Mason Karp and Josh Johnston.

Moore expected Max McLeod to anchor the 2023 receiving team along with Josh Krause, Flynn Schiele and others.

Running back, Moore said Zeman will be “a difficult kid to replace.” For now, Landon Walker, Braelon Tate, Chris Yoo and others will practice locally.

Meanwhile, on defense, the Orediggers are bringing back several impact players in Reeve, senior defense tackle Jack Peterson and senior defense end Zach Hester, Moore described.

“(They will) be without lights this spring,” he said of his defensive players. “We hope that they will carry this over to next fall.”

Overall, Mines wants to return to McKinney this December, leaving with a W this time. Moore felt there were a few things he could have done differently before and during the 2022 title game. He clarified that it wasn’t so much about general pressure or heightened media attention, but more about helping players to align finals and conclusion with the game. He and his staff will be better prepared next time, he said.

“More than anything, (the players) are here to be student athletes — students first,” he continued. “…I didn’t line up my players well enough to be successful. That will never be the case again.”

While the Orediggers are excited about last year’s accomplishments, they also have “a bad taste in their mouths about how it ended,” as Moore described it. So they focus on finishing what they started by reloading and repeating.

Visit for more information, including the full 2023 soccer schedule.











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