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Soccer Teams Headed to Playoffs; Wrestling Season Beginning

Pennsylvania College of Technology men’s and women’s cross-country teams reached new heights over the weekend, the college’s men’s and women’s soccer teams both are North Eastern Athletic Conference playoff bound on Tuesday and the wrestling team opens on Wednesday. The Wildcats are on the move.

The Wildcats are set to embark on a new season under first-year coach Jamie Miller, who believes that the little things his wrestlers work on now will pay big dividends down the road. The Wildcats open their season Wednesday at Delaware Valley University.

“Attention to detail. We talk about this almost every day. We need to focus on the little things, getting a little bit better one practice at a time. We have a lot of work ahead of us to build a program, but, for these guys, it’s just about taking it one day, one practice at a time, trusting the system and seeing results over time,” Miller said. “The importance of nutrition, off-season lifting, getting plenty of rest, and time management to get your work done is so much more important in college and our guys are starting to see that now. We need to take care of the ‘little’ things on a daily basis – that’s what is ultimately going to get us to our goal.”

Returning from last year’s squad are senior Zach Fitzsimmons, of Portville, New York, in the 141-pound weight class; sophomore Joe Swank, of Friedens, at 149; sophomore Andrew Hurd, of Spring Mills, at 174; and sophomore Dylan Otis, of Wyalusing, at heavyweight.

“Overall, we have a pretty young team with a handful of solid returning leaders. Otis, our team captain, sets a great example for the newer guys on the team. We welcomed three guys who had wrestled in high school and were attending Penn College but not wrestling, so it’s been nice to see them getting back out on the mats. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from a numbers or skill-level standpoint when I first took the position, but I have been very impressed with what I have seen thus far from our guys,” Miller said.

Among the new faces are senior Pat Ostrowsky, of Lewisburg, at 197; junior Jacob Sharrah, of Gettysburg, at 184; and freshmen Christian Fox, of Boyertown, at 133; Dan Bergeron, of Jackson, New Jersey, at 157; Jacob Canfield, of Stroudsburg, at 165; Jared Mooney, of Palmerton, at 184; and Scyler Phillips, of Port Jervis, New York, at 197.

“We have five freshmen, four returners who wrestled last year (three sophomores and one senior) and three returning Penn College students who are wrestling for the first time. For the younger guys that have two or three more years ahead of them, we are looking to build a foundation for them. We’ve spent a lot of time the first few weeks on fundamentals. The goal for this year is to master the fundamentals and build off that foundation the following years. For the junior and seniors, we hope to end their careers on a high note while getting them some valuable leadership experience that will serve them well as the enter the next stage of their lives,” Miller said.

Assessing his team’s strengths, Miller, who served as an assistant coach for parts of five seasons at Wilkes University and three years as an assistant coach at Wyoming Valley West High School in Plymouth, said, “These guys come to practice and lift every day and work their tails off. We don’t get any complaints – whether it’s 6 a.m. or 8 p.m., these guys come in every day ready to work.”

Areas that still need work, according to the coach are, “team cohesion and chemistry. With new leadership this year, most guys probably were not sure what to expect from us. Because we have so few returners, they are a very tight-knit bunch so to get everyone acclimated to one another has taken some time – primarily for the freshmen to integrate themselves and find their place on the team. We are getting there. We are beginning to see them open up a lot more in practice and having fun with one another, so I think that will come with time.”

Concerning his team’s outlook, Miller said, “We’re trying not to look that far ahead. … We are looking at improvement on a daily basis – and our guys’ technique and conditioning is steadily improving. The guys that really commit themselves over the next four months are going to see success. That may come in different forms. For some, that may mean a bid to (NCAA Division III) nationals. For others, it may mean a .500 record.”

Commenting on his coaching philosophy, Miller said, “We want to put together a collection of guys that work hard, are committed to their academics, set an example for others (on the mat, in the classroom and in the community) and are selfless teammates. If we can assemble that group, and maintain those expectations, we will ultimately be successful.

“In the short term, the goal is to begin to make a name for ourselves. We want every guy to compete for seven minutes every match. Win or lose, we want our opponent to walk off the mat not wanting to wrestle us again because we don’t quit, we don’t take breaks, we hustle and we grind for seven minutes every match. That’s how you beat guys you probably shouldn’t, and, if our guys stick to that mentality, they will be competitive in most matches.

“Long term, we are building the foundation for a successful program – one that excels academically, competitively and socially. Our expectation is that our guys will set the bar for what it means to be a Penn College student-athlete.”

Competing Saturday in the NEAC Championships, the men, led by a second-place individual finish from sophomore Josh Velez, of Lewistown, finished second among 13 teams and the women, topped by a fifth-place individual finish from freshman Sidney Trunzo, of Williamsport, ended ninth in an 11-team field.

“It was a very windy day and we were without our fourth man today, so everybody had to step up their game and I was really pleased with the outcome,” said third-year coach Nick Patton. In previous NEAC Championship meets, the Wildcats ended ninth in 2014, 10th in 2015 and fifth last year.

“I think a lot of people within the conference haven’t taken note of what our men are doing. Two years ago, when I started coaching, we were 10th with no all-conference selections at all and, last year, we were fifth with two all-conference selections. Now, this year, we were second (team) with four all-conference selections,” Patton said.

Velez posted a time of 28:40 over the 8K course at Morrisville State College, 26 seconds behind the winner. Also for Penn College, Thomas Runner, of Elkridge, Maryland, was fourth in 29:09; Matt Leiby, of Danville, was 12th in 30:31; Chris Traugher, of Bath, was 19th in 31:04; and Chris Hogan, of Halifax, was 29th in 32:09. Velez and Runner were all-NEAC First Team honorees, Leiby a Second Team member and Traugher a Third Team member. According to the NEAC website: The top 21 runners receive All-Conference honors with seven members placed on each team in the order they completed the race. In all, 104 men finished the race.

“They’ve worked very hard throughout the season and got what they deserved. … I think we did amazing. The program is getting better and better. We are headed in the right direction for sure,” Patton said.

SUNY Poly took its fifth straight men’s team title with 40 points. Penn College had 66 points and SUNY Cobleskill was third with 69 points.

After last-place finishes the last two years – the team’s previous best NEAC finish was 10th in 2014 – Patton was hopeful of improvement for his women’s squad and they delivered.

“I’m extremely proud of the women’s team. … We were without our second woman, due to illness … and had to overcome adversity. I think we did that really well,” Patton said.

Penn State Berks won its first team title with 63 points. Penn College scored 219.

Individually for Penn College behind Trunzo, who turned in a time of 26:28 over a 6K course, were Brittany Weiskopff, of Blossburg, who was 45th in 31:33; Nikki Crow, of Elizabethtown, 55th in 33:22; Annikea Miller, of Lancaster, 56th in 33:27; and Tiffany Griffie, of Newville, 58th in 33:39. For her effort, Trunzo was awarded all-NEAC First Team honors. Ninety-three women finished the race.

On Nov. 11, the full men’s team and Trunzo for the women will represent the college for the first time at the NCAA Division III Mideast Regional Qualifier at Big Spring High School in Newville, taking the program to a new high during its first season as a full-fledged DIII member.

Men’s Soccer
In nonconference action on Wednesday at Wilkes University, the Wildcats lost, 6-1, with Daniel Hibbs, of Loyalsock Township, scoring the lone Penn College goal. Wilkes led in shots, 28-9 (13-2 on goal), and in corner kicks, 7-1.

Closing out its regular season on Saturday at home, Penn College bested SUNY Cobleskill, 5-1, to go to 8-11-1 overall and 5-4-1 in the NEAC. Matt Hibbs, of Loyalsock Township, scored twice for the Wildcats and his older brother, Dan, once. Each team took nine shots, Penn College led 7-4 on goal. Cobleskill led in corner kicks, 9-0.

“We had to win (Saturday) to guarantee ourselves a playoff spot … and be in the (NEAC) playoffs for the first time in program history,” coach Tyler Mensch said.

Penn College will travel to second-seeded Keuka College in a conference quarterfinal match at 4 p.m. Tuesday. After Tuesday’s quarterfinals, the top two teams from the North Division and two from the South Division will be reseeded for semifinals on Saturday. The championship is set for Sunday.

“Did I think we were a playoff caliber team to start the year? I thought there was potential for this group. We had a bit of a rough patch in the middle of the season where we had a lot of guys injured, but then, toward the end of the year, we got everybody healthy and have been playing some of our best soccer now when it matters. All-in-all, I’ve been super excited for how this team is,” the coach continued.

In regular-season matches against other North Division playoff-bound teams, third-seeded Penn College beat SUNY Poly 1-0 on Sept. 23, lost to Morrisville State College 2-1 on Oct. 14 and battled to a scoreless double-overtime draw against Keuka College on Oct. 18. Against top South Division teams, Penn College beat Wilson College 1-0 on Oct. 7, lost to Lancaster Bible College 2-1 on Oct. 8 and lost to Penn State Abington 2-0 on Oct. 21.

“I like our chances. Anytime you can get yourself into the tournament, I think we deserve to be one of the top four teams, it’s a one-match scenario. You’ve just got to go out and play 90 minutes. That’s been our motto this year: Play 90 minutes to the best of our ability and anything can happen in playoffs,” said Mensch, in his third season. “I think it’s a really wide-open tournament.”

Also last week, senior goalkeeper Malcolm Kane, of Ardsley, was named the NEAC Defensive Player of the Week after he had 24 saves and a 0.73 goals-against average during matches against Keuka College, College of St. Elizabeth and Penn State Abington.

Statistically speaking: Kane is No. 1 in the NEAC with a .837 save percentage, second with 1.07 goals against average and fourth in saves with 77. Chris McFarland, of Coatesville, is fourth with 51 shots in the NEAC.

Final NEAC North Division standings: Keuka College 4-1-1, Morrisville State College 4-1-1, Penn College 3-2-1, SUNY Poly 3-3, SUNY Cobleskill 2-3-1, Cazenovia College 2-4, Wells College 1-5.

Final NEAC South Division standings: Penn State Abington 6-0, Penn State Berks 4-1-1, Lancaster Bible College 3-2-1, Wilson College 3-3, Gallaudet University 3-3, Bryn Athyn College 1-5, College of St. Elizabeth 0-6.

Women’s Soccer
On Wednesday in nonconference action at Juniata College, Penn College fell, 2-0. Juniata dominated on the offensive side of play, leading in shots, 33-0 (18-0 on goal), and in corner kicks, 10-2.

Hosting SUNY Cobleskill in NEAC play on Saturday, Penn College won, 8-0, to complete a 9-7-3 regular season and end 6-2-2 in the conference. Ashley Donat, of Lenhartsville, scored two goals while Hailee Hartman, of Lampeter, added her eighth goal of the season and an assist. The Wildcats controlled the field with a 30-0 edge in shots (19-0 on goal) and 8-0 edge in corner kicks.

“You can break our season down to three parts: The first couple of games we were very healthy. We were playing really well and we had a great win against Lycoming (College) in the Battle for the Lumber. … Then we suffered through some injuries in the middle part of the season where we struggled … The last couple of weeks, we’ve really started to get rolling. … Overall, we’re peaking at the right time,” fourth-year coach John McNichol said.

Like the men’s team, third-seeded Penn College will travel to second-seeded Keuka College in a conference quarterfinal match at 6 p.m. on Tuesday. After Tuesday’s quarterfinals, the top two teams from the North Division and two from the South Division will be reseeded for semifinals on Saturday. The championship is set for Sunday.

During regular-season matches against other North Division playoff teams, Penn College lost to SUNY Poly 2-1 in double overtime on Sept. 23, tied Morrisville State College 2-2 in double overtime on Oct. 14 and beat Keuka College 2-1 on Oct. 18. Against top South Division playoff teams, the Wildcats tied Lancaster Bible College 0-0 in double overtime on Oct. 8 and beat Penn State Abington 5-0 on Oct. 21. They did not play either Penn State Berks or Bryn Athyn.

“I feel like we’re going to be tested by any team that we play. I think with the right matchup we have a good chance to advance to the conference semifinal weekend,” McNichol said.

“I like the way everything is matching up and I truly believe, if your team plays its best game, then you have a chance to win. We’re getting healthy and, if we play the way we’re capable of, we can play with most teams,” the coach said.

“We’re really looking forward to it. This will be our third straight year in the playoffs so we have a veteran group in terms of playing in these games. We’ve hosted and we’ve traveled, so we’re comfortable doing either. … When you get to this time of the year nothing is guaranteed. We have to play hard, we have to show up and get the result that we want. As long as you keep winning, you have a chance to get to the NCAA tournament … and that’s our goal,” McNichol said.

Also last week, the women’s soccer team earned the United Soccer Coaches College Team Academic Award for the 2016-17 academic year. To be eligible, a team must have had a team GPA of 3.0 or higher. A total of 851 teams (301 men, 550 women) earned the award. Penn College posted a 3.07 team GPA. The Wildcats had a department-high 10 players selected as North Eastern Athletic Conference Scholar-Athletes (3.4 GPA or higher) and have two players with perfect GPA.

Statistically speaking: Penn College is tied for second in the NEAC with 55 goals and third with 333 shots. Hartman is fourth with nine assists and eighth with 60 shots. Goalkeeper Taylor Gonzalez, of Lititz, is fifth with 1.31 goals against average.

Final NEAC North Division standings: SUNY Poly 5-0-1, Keuka College 4-1-1, Penn College 3-2-1, Morrisville State College 3-2-1, Cazenovia College 2-4, Wells College 2-4, SUNY Cobleskill 0-6.

Final NEAC South Division standings: Penn State Berks 6-0, Lancaster Bible College 4-2, Bryn Athyn 4-2, Penn State Abington 3-3, Gallaudet University 2-3-1, College of St. Elizabeth 1-4-1, Wilson College 0-6.

Women’s Volleyball
Hosting Penn State Altoona in nonconference action on Monday, the Wildcats lost, 0-3 (17-25, 14-25, 22-25). Sophie Coldsmith, of Gettysburg, led Penn College with 21 digs and 17 assists.

Wrapping up their season on Saturday, the Wildcats dropped a nonconference match to Alfred State College, 0-3 (10-25, 9-25, 8-25), and lost to Cazenovia College, 1-3 (14-25, 25-14, 15-25, 15-25), to finish 3-16 overall and 2-7 in the NEAC. No individual statistics were available for either match.

Statistically speaking: Coldsmith is fifth in the NEAC with 0.64 service aces per set.

Final NEAC North Division standings: Wells College 6-0, Morrisville State College 5-1, Keuka College 4-2, SUNY Poly 3-3, Penn College 1-5, Cazenovia College 1-5, SUNY Cobleskill 1-5.

Men’s Soccer
Overall: 8-11-1 
NEAC: 5-4-1
Wednesday, Oct. 25 – at Wilkes University, L, 6-1
Saturday, Oct. 28 – host SUNY Cobleskill (NEAC), W, 5-1
Tuesday, Oct. 31 – NEAC quarterfinal at Keuka College, 4 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 4 – NEAC semifinals, TBA
Sunday, Nov. 5 – NEAC final, TBA (winner to NCAA Division III Tournament)

Women’s Soccer
Overall: 9-7-3
NEAC: 6-2-2
Wednesday, Oct. 25 – at Juniata College, L, 2-0
Saturday, Oct. 28 – host SUNY Cobleskill (NEAC), W, 8-0
Tuesday, Oct. 31 – NEAC quarterfinal at Keuka College, 6 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 4 – NEAC semifinals, TBA
Sunday, Nov. 5 – NEAC final, TBA (winner to NCAA Division III Tournament)

Men’s Cross-Country
Saturday, Oct. 28 – NEAC Championship at Morrisville State College, men finished second in a 13-team field
Saturday, Nov. 11 – NCAA Division III Mideast Regional Qualifier at Big Spring High School, Newville, 11 a.m.
(End of season)

Women’s Cross-Country
Saturday, Oct. 28 – NEAC Championship at Morrisville State College, women finished ninth in an 11-team field
Saturday, Nov. 11 – NCAA Division III Mideast Regional Qualifier at Big Spring High School, Newville, 12:15 p.m.
(End of season)

Women’s Volleyball
Overall: 3-16
NEAC: 2-7
Monday, Oct. 23 – host Penn State Altoona, L, 0-3 (17-25, 14-25, 22-25)
Saturday, Oct. 28 – at Cazenovia College triangular vs. Alfred State College, L, 0-3 (10-25, 9-25, 8-25); vs. Cazenovia College (NEAC), L, 1-3 (14-25, 25-14, 15-25, 15-25)
(End of regular season)

Wednesday, Nov. 1 – at Delaware Valley University, 5:30 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 4 – at King’s College Monarch Invitational, 9 a.m.
Saturday, Nov. 11 – at Wilkes University PA/NY Duals, 11 a.m.

For more on the North Eastern Athletic Association, visit the conference website.

For more, visit the Wildcat Athletics website.

No. 12

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