Season of Transitions Continues at Penn College
“Penn State Berks is a very good team. We ran into a group that really played well and really executed their game plan about as well as they could,” Penn College coach John McNichol said after his team’s 7-0 loss on Saturday against the conference’s three-time defending champion.
Top-seeded Penn State Berks scored two first-half goals and added five goals in the second half to move on while Penn College finished 11-9-2 overall and 9-5-1 in all conference matches. Berks led in shots, 21-1 (15-1 on goal), and in corner kicks, 5-0.
On Sunday, Berks added yet another conference title with a 1-0 double overtime win over Lancaster Bible College.
“We had an idea what we wanted to do … unfortunately, they were able to get an early goal … and it forced us to have to change the way we wanted to play,” Penn College’s third-year coach said of his team’s match against Berks.
While Tuesday’s 1-1 triple overtime tie against Penn State Abington didn’t count in the “W” column, a 5-4 shootout advantage was enough to allow the Wildcats to advance into Saturday’s semifinal. Tiffany Brown, of Mechanicsburg, scored the lone Penn College goal on an assist from Hailee Hartman, of Lampeter, at 31:29. Abington evened the score in the 87th minute. A goal by Jane Herman, of Greencastle, provided the shootout difference. Abington led in shots, 15-7 (5-4 on goal). Both teams had five corner kicks.
“I’m very proud of how far we made it this year. … We had some injuries, Lauren Herr, (got hurt not even a minute into the game against Abington on Tuesday) and it definitely was a big loss and affected us (Saturday),” McNichol said.
Reflecting on the season, he said, “We’re a very young team. Nineteen of 24 players are freshmen … we lose five players … Our girls saw what needed to happen in a big game, and the level of focus and the level of energy, the physicality that needs to be there. … We have a group that is very excited and they want to get better.
“We got a little bit further than maybe we thought we would at the beginning of the year, so I think, for us, it’s realizing that we do belong in the discussion of (being) one of the top teams in the conference.
“We’re really looking forward to the spring, we definitely want to focus on being able to knock the ball around a little bit better and holding possession. I think that’s something that, early in the year, was a strength for us and, toward the end of the year, we struggled with.
“We bring back our five leading scorers, so we’re going to have some experience, we’re going to have some players who are comfortable finishing and that was a little bit of a problem for us as the year went on, we were a little bit one-dimensional with the way that we attacked. … We’re going to improve and collectively, as a group, we’re going to get better.”
On Friday, four Wildcats were honored as All-NEAC selections. Senior defender Jordan Courter, of Mill Hall, and sophomore defender Herr, of Manheim, were named to the first team, while junior forward Hartman and sophomore midfielder Herman were named to the second team. The four players are the most All-NEAC honorees in program history for the Wildcats, who finished the season with a program record-tying 11 wins.
Courter made the all-conference team for the third straight season, after earning third-team honors in her sophomore and junior seasons. She was one of the top outside backs in the conference and anchored a defense that allowed the fewest goals in program history, including eight shutouts (second best in the conference).
Herr organized the defense from her center back position and was a threat on restarts with two goals and two assists this season. Her play was a key factor in leading the team that allowed the least amount of goals in a season in program history.
Hartman picked up her second all-conference award in her career after being named to the third team in her sophomore season. She played in all games with 14 goals, four assists and a program-record 36 points (she had 33 points in all conference play, 32 during the regular season). Hartman was named NEAC and NSCAA Player of the Week this season, and ranked fifth in the conference in goals and points, and 15th in assists.
Herman was the driving force in the center midfield this season. She finished the regular season with six goals and three assists.
Although she didn’t earn NEAC honors, senior keeper Colleen Bowes, of Wayne, was among the conference statistical leaders all season long and finished sixth with 101 saves and fifth in save percentage at .802.
On Saturday at the King’s College Monarch Invitational, Cam Newman, of Leck Kill, and Dylan Otis, of Towanda, both placed sixth to highlight Penn College's opener as the Wildcats finished tied for ninth among 12 teams.
Newman was edged, 1-0, in the 133-pound fifth match by Scranton's Nick Ciaccia. Newman pinned New York's Anthony Calvano in 6:43 in the second round, received a medical forfeit in the quarterfinals before falling 6-1 and 5-3 in the semifinals and consolation semifinals.
Otis had to medical forfeit both the consolation semifinals and fifth-place match at 285. He began the tournament with three straight wins via a pin over Roger Williams' Adam Patsun in the first round, a 4-0 decision over SUNY Cortland's Zach Gifford in the second round and a 2-1 decision against New York's Santino Pelusi in the quarterfinals.
Also for Penn College, at 149, Dison Myers, of Three Springs, went 3-2 with a loss in the second round before picking up three falls in the consolation rounds and ending with a setback in the final consolation round. At 165, Tanner Leid, of Terre Hill, won his first match with a pin and lost his next two bouts, and at 174, Chase Schaeffer, of Klingerstown, picked up a first-round fall before bowing in his final two matches.
Last Monday, freshman Josh Velez, of Lewistown, became the first student-athlete in Penn College history to earn a North Eastern Athletic Conference yearly honor when he was named Men's Cross Country Rookie of the Year. Velez, who earned NEAC Runner of the Week honors earlier this season, also was named to the All-NEAC First Team after finishing seventh in the NEAC Championships. Also for the Wildcats, Thomas Runner, of Elkridge, Maryland, was awarded All-NEAC Second Team honors for his 10th-place finish in the conference championship.
Final overall record: 11-9-2
Final NEAC record: 9-5-1 (9-4 regular season)
Tuesday, Nov. 1 – host Penn State Abington in NEAC quarterfinals, 1-1 tie, 3 OT (5-4 shootout win)
Saturday, Nov. 5 – NEAC semifinals at Penn State Berks, L, 7-0
Overall record: 0-0
Saturday, Nov. 5 – at King’s College Monarch Invitational, tied for ninth in a 12-team field
Saturday, Nov. 12 – New York/Pennsylvania Duals with Wilkes University, King’s College, Keystone College and Mount St. Vincent at Riverdale, N.Y., noon
Thursday, Nov. 17 – at Alfred State, 7 p.m.
Overall record: 0-0
Wednesday, Nov. 16 – host Penn State DuBois, 7 p.m.
Overall record: 0-0
Wednesday, Nov. 16 – at Thiel College, 7 p.m.
For more, visit the Wildcat Athletics website.