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Penn College Soccer Teams Open Wednesday

Pennsylvania College of Technology’s soccer teams open their seasons Wednesday at NCAA Division III Penn State University Abington, the men withnine returnees and high hopes and the women somewhat unsettled.

Men Under coach Enrique Castillo, in his fifth season, the Wildcats return nine key players from last year’s squad that finished 15-5-1 overall and was second in the Penn State University Athletic Conference after winning the previous five conference championships. They are Seth Rearick (defender/Watsontown), Daniel Shaffer (goal keeper/Shermansdale), Nick Grasso (defender/New Columbia), Bill DeAngelo (midfielder/Dallas), Patrick Kehoe (midfielder/Oley), Ben Shade (midfield/Fleetwood), Isaac Hostetter (midfielder/Lebanon), Morris Sayon (striker/Upper Darby) and Clayton Bretz (defender/New Bloomfield).

“I expect them to be hungry because we didn’t win the championship last year and we want to get back there. I expect them to be leaders and bring the mental toughness that the team needs,” Castillo said.

All nine will start, along with either Chris Brennan (New Hope) or Tristan Smith (St. Johnsbury, Vt.) at striker and Patrick Masango (Harrisburg) at center/midfielder.

“We are going to be pretty good,” Castillo assessed. “We’ve got a bunch of new players coming in, and, with the experience of some of the guys coming back, I think we’re going to have a solid year.”

Castillo believes one of the team’s strengths will be in its ability to control the ball, but says communication and patience will be important factors in determining the season’s ultimate success.

“We just have to come ready to play. We have so many talented players. From one to 26, we’re solid. Our practices have been better more competitive than they have been any other year, and I think it’s making our team better,” the coach said. “We need to stay healthy. We need to be able to communicate and we need to be able to finish. Those are the things that are going to make us successful this year.

“Expectations are high for me, (assistant coach) Mark Anderson and the team,” Castillo added.

Assessing the possibility of a postseason spot in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association playoffs, Castillo said, “I think we have a more developed team than previously and our goal is to win the national championship.” Last season, the Wildcats tied for fourth in the USCAA.

Other players expected to see considerable action for Penn College are Cody Curry (Towanda), Joe Gallagher (Bethel, Conn.), Joe Rumsey (Langhorne), Godwin Omo-Ekpadi (Norristown), Mitch Pequignot (Cogan Station) and Tom Walters (Lewistown).

Also on the roster are Phil Bair (Harrisburg), Ethan Dunkle (Harrisburg), Alec Elam (Mifflinburg), Gavin Mactarnaghan (Hughesville), David Munn (Athens), Chris Rougeot (Torrington, Conn.), Cody Sollenberger (Lancaster) and Brendan West (Shamokin).

On Saturday, Penn College steps into PSUAC action at defending champion and arch rival York.

SCHEDULE September 1 at Penn State Abington, 7:30 p.m.; 4 at Penn State York, 3 p.m.; 8 at Davis College, 4:30 p.m.; 11 at Penn State Wilkes-Barre, 1 p.m.; 15 host Southern Virginia, 5 p.m.; 18 vs. Lycoming College at Balls Mills Soccer Complex, 7 p.m.; 20 host Penn State Schuylkill, 5 p.m.; 22 host Penn State Scranton, 7 p.m.; 25 at Penn State Mont Alto, 6 p.m.; 26 host Washington Adventist College, 4 p.m.; 28 at Penn State Brandywine, 4 p.m.; 30 at Salem International, 5 p.m.

October 2 at Penn State Beaver, 4 p.m.; 6 at Penn State Hazleton, 6 p.m.; 9 host Penn State New Kensington, 3 p.m.; 14 host Valley Forge Military College, 6 p.m.; 16 host Davis College, 6 p.m.; 19 host Lehigh Carbon Community College, 4 p.m.; 25 host Misericordia University, 5 p.m.

Women It’s the numbers game that new coach Markus Rybak is battling with the women’s team.

“I had a list of 32 (prospective players) the Sunday before the season started, then it was down to 16 within 48 hours. I just don’t know what to expect at this moment. I haven’t had a chance to talk to them about tactics because I never have more than six at practice,” Rybak, a native of Germany, said Monday.

Returning players are Kierstin Steer (goalkeeper/South Williamsport), Alexis Brown (Danville), Kim Daley (Springfield Center, N.Y.), Brandy Krause (Pine Grove) and Samantha Wallish (Harrisburg).

“Kierstin actually is my No. 1 striker, but I have to put her in goal because I have no goalie,” said Rybak, who was the assistant coach a year ago when the Wildcats went 8-4-1 overall, playing an independent schedule, and tied for third in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association national championships.

“Steer and Wallish will lead the team throughout the season on the field and off,” the coach said.

Also on the roster are Ashley Myers (Muncy), Ashley Truxall (Watsontown), Tahairah Meek (Millville), Kathy Wylezik (Bernville), Kirsten Sweeney (Pittsburgh), Jonaesha Smith (Muncy), Danielle Shockey (Waynesboro), Kelsey Ratesic (Monroeville), Jocelyn Moyer (Tower City), Lindsey Lamarca (Warwick, N.Y.) and Nicole Eversberg (Lawrence Township, N.J.).

“We have a young squad and expect to improve as we mature as a team,” Rybak said. The key to any postseason action will be the team’s ability to play on a consistent basis and learn to work together as one unit, he added.

SCHEDULE September 1 at Penn State Abington, 5 p.m.; 4 host Davis College, 1 p.m.; 11 – at Lycoming College, 4:30 p.m.; 16 at Reading Area Community College, 4 p.m.; 18 host Penn State DuBois, 4 p.m.; 22 host Misericordia University, 5 p.m.; 26 host Washington Adventist, 2 p.m.; 30 at Salem International, 3 p.m.

October 2 at Penn State Beaver, 2 p.m.; 6 at Penn State DuBois, 5 p.m.; 9 host Salem International, 1 p.m.; 11 host Elmira (N.Y.) College Jayvees, 1 p.m.; 13 host Susquehanna University, 5 p.m.; 16 host Alfred (N.Y.) University, 1 p.m.; 23 host Valley Forge Christian College, 2 p.m.; 28 host Penn State Beaver, 5 p.m.