Penn College men’s lacrosse team builds 'brotherhood'

Published 02.06.2022

Wildcat Weekly

In its inaugural season under a first-time head coach, the Pennsylvania College of Technology men’s lacrosse team went 4-2 overall and finished second in the conference, begging the question: What will it do for an encore when play begins next Sunday (Feb. 13) hosting Juniata College?

“The 2022 season is looking good,” coach Jordan Williams said. “We had a great season with our inaugural team with some success on and off the field, which has laid the foundation this team is building off.

“We brought in a big class to supplement our returners, who laid the foundation for our program in year one. We have athleticism all over the field with experienced leaders to help guide the newcomers as they get adjusted to the college game.

“We now have the roster (45 players) to play the style of lacrosse we want to play and we look forward to pushing the tempo up and down the field. We expect to see impacts from multiple freshmen and transfers as we start the season and hope to compete within the United East again this season.”

Among the team’s returning players are three all-conference first-teamers in sophomore attack Quinn Caviola, of Ridgefield, Connecticut; senior defender Ben Guaragno, of Spring Grove; sophomore defender Angelo Vercadipane, of Boonton, New Jersey; and three all-conference second-team honorees in sophomore midfielder Daniel Harkins, of North Wales; senior faceoff Dylan Klemas, of Narvon; and junior long stick midfielder Isaac Hernandez, of Monroe Township, New Jersey.

Williams also said senior midfielder Nathan Hugo, of Ligonier, is expected to play a key role this season, and another returnee is sophomore goalie Graham Purdy, of Hillsborough, New Jersey, who was named to the conference’s All-Sportsmanship Team a year ago.

“A lot of our returners mentioned above will be mainstays in our lineup early on, especially as they help guide our younger guys into the college game,” said Williams, who was the conference’s Coach of the Year in 2021. “No positions are set as of now and will constantly change as we deal with COVID, injuries and other things outside of our control.

“We like to play fast, we like to push the tempo on both sides of the ball and we like to make other teams make decisions on our terms. With that style of play, we will be rotating a lot of young guys throughout our lineup as we continue to build our chemistry and find what works best with this group.”

Among the newcomers who could make an early impact, according to Williams, are junior goalie J.J. Cella, of Cape May, New Jersey; sophomore attack James Thatcher, of Bala Cynwyd; and freshmen attack/midfielder Sam Hills, of Maynard, Massachusetts; attack Guerin San Agustin, of Old Bridge, New Jersey; midfielder Gage McClune, of Ephrata; forward Josh O’Leary, of Keyport, New Jersey; midfielder Cole Spezialetti, of Millersville; midfielder Brendan Kuczma, of New Fairfield, Connecticut; long stick midfielder Colby Williamson, of Sinking Spring; defender Kevin Ronayne, of Havertown; defender Walt Heiser, of Milford, New Jersey; and defender Mason Nester, of Schwenksville.

Others on the roster that Williams also expects good things from are junior defender Alex Feeman, of Lebanon; and freshmen defender-midfielder Elliott Gmiter, of Gibsonia; midfielder CJ Jones, of Glenolden; long stick midfielder Cory Johnson, of Irwin; midfielder Devin Page, of Pine City, New York; midfielder Ryan Cordano, of Williamstown, New Jersey; defender Aidan Bedara, of Hatboro; and defender Ryan Jefferies, of Oxford, Connecticut.

“We are young, energetic and athletic. With some key returners guiding us in multiple positions, it is an interesting mix of leadership, composure and a willingness to learn,” Williams said.

“This group brings a level of competitiveness and joy to every practice that is contagious to be around. We have a group of young men who are buying into our vision of success on and off the field, buying into the team, and focusing on our word of the season: Brotherhood,” the coach continued. “We believe we have the necessary pieces to have a great season if we focus on the little things, focus on the team and focus on being the best teammates we can be.

“Our biggest strengths as a team are our athleticism and toughness. Whoever we play can expect a game where every ground ball will be contested, they will be pressured and we will push the tempo. We have a group that likes to play fast, have fun and compete all over the field.

“Our biggest area of (needed) improvement is our inexperience and age. We have the pieces, the skill and the athleticism to compete in our conference week-in and week-out. We will make a lot of mistakes with our style of play – we are looking to learn from those mistakes and that inexperience — and that starts with our coaching staff being OK with the sloppy ‘gray area’ of the game,” Williams said. “We believe we have guys at every position who will put us in a position to succeed, we just need the in-game experience to truly have that learning stick.

“We know what our conference is going to look like and we are ready to compete. St Mary’s (Md.) College joining will be a huge bump in the toughness of our schedule and we believe they will be just as good, if not better than Morrisville (the six-time defending conference champ). “While we will respect every team we play, we are going to go out each game believing we are capable of playing with anyone we step on the field with. While the guys want to circle the matchup with Morrisville, we need to focus on going 1-0 each day. If we focus on the little things, the big things will take care of themselves.”

A year ago, the Wildcats played a conference-only schedule, but this year will face at least 16 opponents – including several nonconference foes.

“This will make our season busier on and off the field without a doubt,” Williams said. “Last year had games in April and May, only on Saturdays. This year, we have midweek games throughout the spring. It will force our guys to manage their time more effectively to take care of the duties of a student-athlete.

“From a coaching standpoint, the biggest impact will be managing the wear and tear of a full season, emphasizing rest more, and making sure the guys have ownership in the decisions of the program throughout the season. It is easy for me to say time to practice, but I am also not the one going to class full time, competing six days a week and balancing the multiple needs of a collegiate student-athlete.

“Overall, the full schedule will be more challenging, but will be more rewarding when we look back at the legacy the PCT lacrosse team of 2021-22 will be leaving behind.”

Men’s basketball
Hosting Wells College in United East play on Tuesday, Penn College lost, 70-54. Hitting 41% of its shots from the field in the first half compared to 32% for Wells, the Wildcats led 31-29 at the intermission. But a 14-0 run by the Chargers to start the second half quickly turned things around and Wells, which shot 47% after the break to 34% for Penn College, went on to lead by 20 points twice before the game ended. Gavin Barrett, of Roselle, New Jersey, topped Penn College scorers with 14 points and dished out five assists, while Will Sulesky, of Huntingdon, led the team with nine rebounds.

In UE road play on Friday, with Barrett posting his second triple-double of the season against Penn State Berks, Penn College scored a 90-60 win that improved its record to 5-14 overall and 5-7 in the conference. Chris Coyne, of Glen Mills, topped three Penn College players scoring in double figures with 21, while Barrett totaled 17 and Max Jackowsky, of Garnet Valley, 14. Barrett led the Wildcats with 11 rebounds and handed out 10 assists to record his triple-double.

UE standings through Sunday: Penn State Harrisburg, 10-1; St. Mary’s (Md.) College, 10-1; Lancaster Bible College, 10-1; Wells College, 8-5; Penn College, 5-7; Penn State Abington, 4-7; Morrisville State University, 3-8; Gallaudet University, 2-11; Penn State Berks, 0-11.

Women’s basketball
After back-to-back first-quarter leads that ended with losses one week before, the third time was a charm for the Wildcats on Tuesday night as they started a 2-0 week with a 66-22 home UE win over Wells College. Maci Ilgen, of Spring Mills, scored 20 points and had 11 rebounds in the victory, and Rachel Teats, of Middleburg, added 15 points. The Wildcats scored 32 points off 29 Wells turnovers and outscored the Chargers in the paint, 30-12.

On Friday, for the second time in less than two weeks, Penn College routed Penn State Berks, 98-37, and in doing so hiked its overall record to 6-13 and 5-7 in the UE. It marked the first time since 2016-17 that it has had five conference victories in a season. Teats led the Wildcats with 15 points, while Ilgen and reserves Emily Pardee, of Williamsport; Jade Cordrey, of Hughesville; and Shelby Pyatt, of Frenchtown, New Jersey, each scored 12 points. Bell Hitesman, of Muncy, also came off the bench to lead the team with 12 rebounds. Penn College outscored Berks in points in the paint, 58-6, and in points off 32 turnovers, 47-7, in rolling to its highest offensive output since 2014-15 when it scored 96 against St. Elizabeth College. Since 2002-03, Penn College women have reached the century mark just three times: 123 vs. Baptist Bible East and 100 vs. Luzerne County Community College, both in November 2002, and 105 vs. Penn State Mt. Alto in December 2004.

UE standings through Sunday: Gallaudet University, 11-2; Morrisville State University, 8-3; Penn State Harrisburg, 7-4; St. Mary’s (Md.) College, 8-5; Lancaster Bible College, 7-5; Penn State Abington, 6-5; Penn College, 5-7; Wells College, 1-12; Penn State Berks, 0-10.

At home on Saturday during Senior Day, the Wildcats topped Pitt-Bradford, 35-16, and Keystone College, 35-12, and lost to Centenary University, 35-17, to improve to 5-9 in dual matches. Ryan Berstler, of Middletown, finished 3-0 at 125 pounds with two pins; Jesse Walker, of Ridgefield, Connecticut, went 2-0 at 165 and 184 with a pin and technical fall; and four other Penn College matmen – Patrick Snoke, of Northampton, at 133; Colin Jens, of Centreville, Maryland, at 141; Nick Semon, of Norristown, at 149; and Garrett Storch, of Canton, at 184 – all ended 2-1 on the day.

Penn College lost to New Haven University in Overwatch, Lebanon Valley College in Rocket League and North Carolina, all by 3-0 scores, while it finished 24 of 31 in iRacing action.

Men’s basketball
Overall: 5-14
UEC: 5-7
Tuesday, Feb. 1 – host Wells College (UE), L, 70-54
Friday, Feb. 4 – at Penn State Berks (UE), W, 90-60
Wednesday, Feb. 9 – at Penn State Harrisburg (UE), 6 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 12 – host Penn State Abington (UE, Senior Day), 1 p.m.
Tuesday, Feb. 15 – host Lancaster Bible College (UE), 5 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 19 – at Morrisville State University (UE), 1 p.m.
End of regular season

Women’s basketball
Overall: 6-13
UEC: 5-7
Tuesday, Feb. 1 – host Wells College (UE), W, 66-22
Friday, Feb. 4 –at Penn State Berks (UE), W, 98-37
Wednesday, Feb. 9 – at Penn State Harrisburg (UE), 8 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 12 – host Penn State Abington (UE, Senior Day), 3 p.m.
Tuesday, Feb. 15 – host Lancaster Bible College (UE, Pink Out), 7 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 19 – at Morrisville State University (UE), 3 p.m.
End of regular season

Overall: 5-9
Saturday, Feb. 5 – host Pitt-Bradford, W, 35-16; host Centenary University, L, 35-17; host Keystone College, W, 35-12
Saturday, Feb. 12 – at SUNY Brockport vs. Brockport, 1 p.m.; vs. Alfred (N.Y.) State College, 3 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 13 – at RIT Duals vs. RIT, noon; vs. SUNY Oneonta, 2 p.m.
End of regular season

Tuesday, Feb. 1 – CIL NASCAR North Wilkesboro Speedway, 24 of 31
Tuesday, Feb. 8 – CIL NASCAR Detroit Grand Prix at Belle Isle, 8 p.m.
Monday, Feb. 14 – CIL NASCAR Kentucky Speedway, 8 p.m.

Record: 0-2
Monday, Jan. 31 – vs. New Haven University, L, 3-0
Monday, Feb. 7 – vs. Shenandoah University, 8 p.m.
Monday, Feb. 14 – vs. Drexel University, 8 p.m.

Rocket League
Record: 0-2
Monday, Jan. 31 – vs. Lebanon Valley College, L, 3-0
Monday, Feb. 7 – vs. Farmingdale State College, 7 p.m.
Monday, Feb. 14 – vs. Stony Brook University, 7 p.m.

League of Legends
Record: 0-2
Tuesday, Feb. 1 – vs. North Carolina, L, 3-0
Tuesday, Feb. 8 – vs. West Virginia University IT, 7 p.m.

Record: 0-0
Sunday, Feb. 6 – vs. Wilfrid Laurier University, 4 p.m.

Men’s lacrosse
Sunday, Feb. 13 – host Juniata College, 1 p.m.
Wednesday, Feb. 16 – host Shenandoah University, 3 p.m.

For more about the United East, visit the conference website.

For additional information, visit the Wildcat Athletics website.

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