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Penn College Faces No. 2 Seed in National Men’s Soccer Tournament

When Pennsylvania College of Technology men’s soccer coach Enrique Castillo began beefing up his team’s schedule, he did so with one reason in mind: prepare for the national championships.

“We have played against some quality teams to get us ready for nationals,” Castillo said. “It gets us ready for the speed of the game so we are not shocked by some of the teams we will see.”

“We played against some good Division III schools and I think we are ready. It’s just a matter of the opportunities we create. We have to capitalize and minimize our mistakes in the back; then, we should be all right,” the coach continued.

Two second-half goals and a stellar defensive effort lifted Penn College to a 2-1 win over Penn State Hazleton on Monday and gave it the Penn State University Athletic Conference championship. It also earned the Wildcats a berth in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association national championships Thursday through Saturday.

Tristan Smith, of Bermuda, scored both goals on assists from Patrick Kehoe, of Oley, as second-seeded Penn College improved to 12-6-2 overall and closed out its PSUAC season at 9-1-1. Goalkeeper Aaron Volz, of West Chester, stopped three of four Hazleton shots on goal. Penn College finished the day with 12 shots on goal as it avenged a 1-0 regular-season loss to fourth-seeded Hazleton. The championship is the fifth in six seasons and second in a row — under Castillo.

“He’s a great player,” the coach said of Smith. Castillo also had high praise for William DeAngelo, of Dallas, and freshman Braden Conner, of Reading, who got his first start. “They all really stepped up,” he said.

Next up will be a trip to Asheville, N.C., where, as the seventh seed, Penn College will open on Thursday against second-seeded Briarcliffe College, of Bethpage, N.Y. In two previous trips to nationals, in 2009 and last year, the Wildcats finished among the top four both times.

“Winning the conference was our first goal. We’re happy and excited. Now we want to win a national championship. We’re going with the mind-set that we’re going to win it all. Anything is possible,” Castillo said.

In other first-round matches, it will be top-seeded University of Maine-Fort Kent vs. No. 8 Wilson Warren College, No. 4 Ohio Mid-Western College vs. No. 5 Lindenwood University-Belleville and No. 3 Florida College vs. No. 6 Southern Maine Community College.

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