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Soccer Team Has New Coach, but Expects Same Winning Ways

The 2006 Penn College men's soccer teamFor the second year in a row, the Pennsylvania College of Technology men’s soccer team is under the leadership of a new coach. But, if last year’s championship season is any indication, there should be no problem.

Enrique Castillo, a native of Peru and former Wildcat player himself, succeeds Jeff Finn at the helm.

Castillo played high school soccer in Clifton, N.J., where his team once was ranked fourth in the country and won a state championship in the mid-1990s, and was recruited by NCAA Division I Rutgers and Fairleigh Dickinson University. Instead, he opted for a technical school Penn College where he played two seasons, including on the championship 2000 team.

After college, Castillo, now a partner in an Internet consulting firm and in real estate in Williamsport, was an assistant boys coach at Montoursville High for two seasons before becoming an assistant at Penn College last year.

“We have a great opportunity to do something special like we did last year,” he said, referring to the Wildcats’ Penn State University Athletic Conference championship.

The fact that he was a part of that experience puts Castillo in a good position this year.

“I know the returning kids. With 70-75 kids out, I knew it was going to be tough (cutting players). I knew it was going to be challenging. After 35-40 kids, it was hard to get down to the (final) 26,” he said.

“We’re in better shape than we were last year coming in (both physically and mentally). I wouldn’t say we’re better than last year, but I think we have a more complete team. We have 26 guys who are all strong, including the goalies,”Castillo said.

Defense always has been a strength of Wildcat teams, and, once the players get a couple of games under their belts, Castillo thinks it will be just as tough again.

“I think this defense can be one of the best defenses at this school since I’ve been here. They’re strong, they’re physical, they’re quick and smart,” he said.

“I want them to score a lot of goals. I want them to put pressure on the defense. But I also want them to take chances,” he said of the offense.

Probable starters in Thursday’s 6 p.m. home opener against Penn State Wilkes-Barre are striker Abdullah Al-Bahrani (sophomore/Saudi Arabia), sweeper Coleby Frye (freshman/Dover), midfielder Derick Hunter (freshman/Williamsport), midfielder Brendan Kemmerer (sophomore/Quakertown), midfielder Stephen Lis (sophomore/Elliottsburg), defender Wesley Miller (junior/Reading), goal keeper Corey Myers (freshman/Boiling Springs), defender Travis Russ (junior/Effort), stopper John Vitovsky (freshman/Waymart), striker Zachary Yoder (freshman/Milton) and midfielder Zachary Zukauckas (freshman/Newville).

Al-Bahrani, Kemmerer, Lis, Miller, Russ, striker Josh Liples (junior/Olyphant), striker Shane Fuller (sophomore/York) and striker Brent McElrath (sophomore/Mercer) are all returnees. Lis, Miller and defender Jason Lapenna (junior/Fairless Hills) are the team’s tri-captains.

Others pushing for starting positions are sophomore Stephen Bull (midfielder/Hampstead, Md.) and freshmen Bobby Barraza (defender/Stroudsburg), Shawn Bonawitz (striker/Elizabethville), Steve Bullock (midfielder/Manheim), Peter Cecchini (defender/Berlin, N.J.), Derek Geisinger (goalie/Red Lion), Sean Kowalik (striker/Red Lion), Ben Myers (defender/Lancaster), Kane Rowles (goalie/South Williamsport), Renny Walker (midfielder/Lewisburg) and Brendan Wilson (midfielder/Kersey).

“I have high expectations for the team. I’m not trying to put pressure on the players. But I have high expectations because of what I see,” Castillo said. “I know what the team can do. Whether we get to do them or not is up to me and up to the players. It boils down to, ‘How do we manage to become a team?’ Once we get to that point, I think we’ll be OK.”

Castillo called his team’s first three games “critical” as it prepares to open defense of its conference championship. The second game, Saturday at home against Lycoming College, will be especially meaningful as city bragging rights are on the line.

“I’m impressed with the hard work of the guys; not only those who have been a part of the championship, but also the new freshmen coming in. They’re going strong to every ball. They know they can do something special by winning a championship. The guys can taste it,” Castillo added.

(Complete rosters and schedules are available on the college’s Athletics Web page.)

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