Penn College Men's Soccer Team Looks to Elevate Its Game
Last season, the Pennsylvania College of Technology men's soccer team went unbeaten during the regular season and captured its fifth straight conference championship. But it was brought back down to earth when it entered the United States Collegiate Athletic Association playoffs.
After posting 13 straight wins during the season and extending their two-season win string to 29 matches, the Wildcats lost both of their USCAA games and quickly were headed home.
"We need to be challenged more in each game. We're in a good conference, but, at the level we want to go, we were not prepared throughout the season for the kind of speed and physical play that we saw at nationals," coach Enrique Castillo said. "It wasn't that other teams were a lot better than us, we didn't have enough depth and were not as fast."
If it's a challenge he's looking for, Castillo and his team should find Tuesday's opener at crosstown NCAA Division III rival Lycoming College much to their liking.
"They have one of the best freshman classes they have seen in a while and they were picked to come in third in their conference. They're going to be strong. It could be the toughest team we face this year," Castillo said.
"We've been practicing on artificial grass to simulate Lycoming's field," the coach added, noting that the first 10 to 15 minutes will be important for his squad.
Penn College teams always have been known for their strong defenses, but Castillo, who enters his fourth season with a remarkable 43-4-2 record, is looking for more scoring this year.
"The key for this season will be moving the ball quicker, and finishing the opportunities we get. We need to score a lot more," Castillo said.
"Overall, I think we have the best freshman class we had since I've been at the college," the coach continued. "We are a little behind schedule with our fitness and our touch on the ball, but will get there.
"We are working with both a half young squad and half veteran. I am looking for them to gel together and understand each other better on the field. We need to improve on our speed and our first touch if we plan to beat some of the stronger team in nationals," Castillo said.
Key returnees, according to Castillo, are Steven Bullock (senior/Manheim), Coleby Frye (senior/York), Brendan Muth (senior/Macungie), William DeAngelo (junior/Dallas), Morris Sayon (junior/Upper Darby), Roberto Barraza (senior/Stroudsburg), Seth Rearick (junior/Watsontown), Clayton Bretz (junior/New Bloomfield), Patrick Kehoe (sophomore/Oley) and Jevin Martin (junior/Northumberland).
"I expect them to become leaders on this year's team. I expect each one of them to work hard and to improve on their overall skills. I am specially looking for our forwards to be able to finish the opportunities that we create on the field, especially Sayon and Bullock, who probably will be our top forwards," the coach said.
Among the new players expected to make an immediate impact are Nick Gasso (junior/New Columbia), a transfer from Elizabethtown; Joe Gallagher (freshman/Bethel, Conn.); Matt Matkowsky (freshman/Nashua, N.H.); Andrew Reed (freshman/Boston, Mass.); Andrew Brower (freshman/Randolph, N.J.); and Bradley Yoder (freshman/Reading).
Daniel Shaffer, a junior from Shermansdale, had been expected to return in goal, but was injured over the summer and is out for the season. He's helping out with the team's young goalies, however.
"Our strength is our depth; we have so many good players on the team," continued Castillo, who is assisted by Mark Anderson. "Our weakness at this point in the season with only three real practices would be our speed and better decision making with the ball. Also, how quickly we move the ball is going to be a key.
"Our outlook for the season is to win every game. We have a great chance to win the PSUAC championship again this year. It is up to us the coaches and the players to make this happen. Another goal this year is to win nationals. We have a little more experience than last season and I think that will improve our chance."
"Winning brings expectations from everybody. We're expected to win every year, and it gets tougher every year. "¦ We feel we have a team that can go places because the freshmen are so competitive and the number of skilled players we have overall. We're excited."
(Complete rosters and season schedules are available on the college's Athletics Web site ). More informationabout the PSUAC is available online ; for more informationabout the USCAA, visit on the Web .)