MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- Soccer at Merced College has been resurrected.
Both the men's and women's programs return this week after getting cut several years ago.
"People have asked the president, other administrators and staff why don't you guys have soccer anymore and all these players were leaving. They were going elsewhere," women's coach Josh Daughdrill.
The Blue Devils responded by bringing back the program and giving local talent a place to play in front of family and friends. The women return to action Thursday for the first time in more than 15 years when they travel to Ridgecrest.
"I think I have some leeway. I think I could go 0-19 and I wouldn't lose the job. Obviously, I'd lose players, so you want to build a strong program. You want to build some support in the community. You want players not only locally but elsewhere to start coming to try to play here," Daughdrill said.
Both the men and women were set for a re-launch in 2020 -- but the pandemic pushed the new start date to this year.
Men's coach Sergio Sousa hopes to give local players an opportunity to continue playing at the collegiate level while pulling from the area's rich soccer talent pool
"Obviously, coming off the COVID year where a lot of people didn't have the opportunity to play in front of a college coach, it allowed us to have access to really good players that maybe slipped through the cracks and because of that, we're going to have a great start to hopefully a successful program," Sousa said.
Merced College will celebrate the return of soccer by hosting a men's and women's doubleheader on Tuesday.
The Blue Devils will kickoff the twin bill with the women's match at 2 pm followed by the men at 4 pm.
"The more people we can get out here at our games supporting our guys, watching, cheering everybody on, I believe that will be the thing that makes this program successful," said Sousa.
Both programs will compete in the California Community Colleges Athletics Association.