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Men’s Soccer Team Relying on Freshman Talent

In most college athletic programs, freshmen seldom work their way into the starting lineup. Not so for the Pennsylvania College of Technology men’s soccer team. In fact, they are counted on heavily.

“With no more than six or seven returnees each season, the quality of our freshmen players tends to make or break the team,” said coach Andy Richardson. Last season was a good example. Penn College returned only five players from the previous season and had 18 freshmen on the roster. Yet the team posted a 16-3 overall record and finished second in the Eastern Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference North Division.

Veterans back from that squad for the 13th year coach include Mike Angell (Central York), last year’s scoring leader with nine goals and 11 assists, who was awarded all-Pennsylvania Collegiate Athletic Association and all-EPCC honors; Lathan Gross (Northeastern), Alex Johnson (New Oxford), Jhon Soto (Kensington), returning goalie Ryan Swartz (Muhlenberg), Matt Tuttle (Greene, N.Y) and Adam Waigand (Seneca Valley, N.Y.).

Also returning, from the 2002 squad, is Sean McGranahan (Methacton). Freshmen on whom Richardson is counting to step in and produce immediately include Andrew Dougherty-Hamod (Williamsport), Jaber Al Yami (Saudi Arabia), Adam Cleland (East Penn), Matt Dennis (Northeastern), Joe Haubenstein (Mercy Vocational), Josh Liples (Lakeland), Nathan Menio (Line Mountain), Jordan Myers(York), Russ Travis (Pleasant Valley), Tyler Singleton (Montrose) and Tim Weber (Watkins Glen, N.Y.).

The coach said he’s talking with two others who also may join the team before its season opener Thursday when it hosts Mercyhurst at 6 p.m. on the College’s lighted field near the Field House. One of them, Serkan Colak, an international student from Turkey, also played last year.

Probable starters will be Swartz in goal; Waigand, Johnson, Tuttle and Russ as backs; Dougherty-Hamod, Swope, Angell, Gross and Weber in the midfield; and Liples and Myers at forward/striker. Commenting on Angell, the coach said, “I expect no less than we had last year from him, and hopefully more. He has a mark to shoot for, and possibly better this year.”

Richardson is assisted by Jeff Finn this season. Finn played collegiate soccer at Ohio Wesleyan, an NCAA Division III school. “We’re very excited about the scoring potential we see coming from the skilled freshmen,” said Richardson.

In addition to vying for the EPCC/PCAA championship, which Penn College last won in 2000, the squad is beginning its first season as a member of the Commonwealth Campus Athletic Conference and will be shooting for that title, too.

“Given the quality returners I have, and the very skilled freshmen players that I picked up, we should do very well this year. We hope to complete our goals, which are finishing high enough in the standings that we make the playoffs, and, once we get there, we’re definitely going for the title,” Richardson continued. “I think our team will be every bit as strong (as last year’s) defensively, but from what I’ve seen we’re going to be on the scoreboard a lot more. We’ve got some of these talented freshmen guys who have already shown that they are ready to step up to the challenge and are extremely good shooters,” the coach added.

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