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Men’s Soccer Coach Has Mixed Feelings Heading Into Playoffs

Penn College men’s soccer coach Andy Richardson has reason for both optimism and concern as his squad heads into postseason play.

On the plus side, his team rolled through the regular season playing well while compiling records of 15-2 overall and 11-1 in the Eastern Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference. During the first 11 of those EPCC matches, all wins, the Wildcats outscored their opponents 61-5, with eight of the victories by shutout.

A loss in the regular-season final at Penn State-Berks on Tuesday and injuries to two of his three goalies are reasons for Richardson’s concern, however.

The loss to Berks cost Penn College the top seed in the EPCC Northern Division playoffs, which begin Saturday at 1 p.m. The Wildcats, seeded second, will host Penn State-Hazleton while top-seeded Penn State-Berks will host Northampton. In an earlier meeting, Penn College edged Penn State-Hazleton, 3-2.

“We got spanked (by Berks), but hopefully it was a rude awakening for our guys. They didn’t play well at all. We had a major off day, and everything that they (Berks) did was great,” Richardson observed. “We’ve seen some rough times down at Berks. They’re an excellent ball club and always have been.”

“The guys still have their heads hanging a little bit from the loss, but that won’t last long. They’re good kids and realize what needed to be done and wasn’t. Hopefully, they won’t let that happen in following games,” the coach continued.

Ryan Swartz (freshman/Muhlenberg), the Wildcats’ No. 1 goalie, won’t be available Saturday and backup Justin Gibboney (freshman/Middleburg) is questionable. That means the job of stopping Penn State-Hazleton could fall into the hands of Brandon Pontius (sophomore/Greenwood).

“The pretty picture we had before of strong defense and ranks of goalies has dwindled,” Richardson said. “We’ve got our work cut out for us, quite honestly.”

Penn College starters Saturday will be forwards Dave Anoia (freshman/Lebanon Catholic) and Scott Ribarchik (sophomore/Bristol), midfielders Ben Corban (freshman/Gettysburg), Dan Hill (sophomore/Muncy), Mike Angell (freshman/Central York) and Serkan Colak (freshman international student from Turkey), halfback Adam Waigand (sophomore/Seneca Valley) and outside backs Alex Johnson (freshman/Conewago Valley), Jason LaPenna (sophomore/Conwell Eagan) and Bill Lutz (sophomore/Central York), with either Gibboney or Pontius in goal.

“I’m hoping that we can make a charge here at the end and advance to the state finals,” Richardson added.

Saturday’s winners will square off next Wednesday on the home field of the highest seed. The winner of that match will play Nov. 1 at the home field of the Southern Division titlist to decide the EPCC and Pennsylvania Collegiate Athletic Association championship. Teams competing in the South Division are Bucks County Community College, Penn State-Delaware, Penn State-Abington and Manor College.

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