Pennsylvania College of Technology men's soccer and women's volleyball teams look to defend their Penn State University Athletic Conference championships as playoffs begin this week. The fourth-seeded volleyball team (11-5 PSUAC) hosts No. 5 seed PSU Hazleton (10-5) at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, and the second-seeded soccer team (9-1) drew a first-round bye and will host the winner of a match between No. 3 PSU Brandywine (9-1) and No. 6 PSU New Kensington (5-5) in a semifinal match on Thursday.
"I think we have played well so far. Our first goal for the season was to make the playoffs and get home-field for the playoffs. Having a bye will be a benefit, giving us two extra days to prepare for the semifinal game Thursday," first-year coach Adam Matter said.
Penn College, PSU York and PSU Brandywine all finished the regular PSUAC season with 9-1 records with their lone losses to each other: Penn College lost in overtime to PSU Brandywine, 3-2; PSU York lost to Penn College , 1-0, and Brandywine lost to York, 2-1.
"Our team has come a long way from each of our first meetings with Brandywine and York. To beat both of these teams again will require us to apply what we learned from the first meeting and limit our mistakes on the field. We cannot rely on any one individual, we must work as a team to get the job done," Matter continued.
In the other first-round match on Tuesday, No. 4 PSU Wilkes-Barre (6-3-1) hosts No. 5 PSU Beaver (5-4-1). The winner of that match faces York on Thursday. The championship is scheduled for Sunday at noon at University Park.
Last season, the Lady Wildcats were conference co-champs with PSU Fayette after Superstorm Sandy wiped out the title match, and first-year coach Monica Brown believes a repeat is possible.
"It's all coming together at the right time. We match well with Hazleton, we definitely like our odds against them, and we saw Fayette last weekend and took a game from them. We know that we can beat them, too, as long as we play our game. I like our chances of winning the conference. It isn't going to be easy but we definitely have a shot," Brown said.
Top-seeded PSU Fayette (16-0) drew a first-round bye. Other playoff teams and their records are PSU Brandywine (15-1), PSU Mont Alto (13-3), PSU Beaver (10-6) and PSU Greater Allegheny (8-8). Semifinals are scheduled for Thursday at Penn State's Rec Hall and the championship game Sunday.
Competing Saturday in the PSUAC Championships in Dunmore, Penn College finished fourth behind PSU Wilkes-Barre, PSU Scranton and PSU Brandywine. Individually, junior Dan Flynn finished fifth in 30:59 to earn a spot on the All-Conference First Team. Freshman Nate Mashack was 11th in 32:30 and earned second-team honors. Also for Penn College, freshman Tyler Pecora was 16th in 33:49; senior Ed Knyff was 23rd in 35:12; and freshman William Cox was 30th in 40:56. Next up, Penn College travels to Syracuse, N.Y. for the United State Collegiate Athletic Association Championships on Nov. 8.
In a Penn College record-setting performance Tuesday, Chris Brennan scored five goals in a 6-1 win over PSU Hazleton as the Wildcats closed out its regular season at 14-4. Penn College outshot the Lions, 41-11.
Also during the week, it was announced that Brennan had been named the PSUAC and USCAA Men's Soccer Player of the Week for the period ending Oct. 13. In the team's 3-0 week, Brennan scored six goals, scoring two in each of the team's wins. He also recorded two assists. For the season, Brennan has totaled 28 goals and 60 points putting him at the top of the PSUAC rankings and second in the USCAA.
Penn College put up a good fight but dropped a 3-0 decision Tuesday to once-beaten University of Maine - Fort Kent. Goalkeeper Colleen Bowes had 10 saves in match for the Wildcats.
Facing NCAA Division III Susquehanna University at Selinsgrove on Wednesday, Penn College recorded a 1-1 tie. Robyn Beddow scored the lone goal for the Wildcats in the 63rd minute. Bowes recorded 12 saves as Susquehanna dominated play by outshooting Penn College, 32-3.
On Friday, Beddow and Madilyn Walters each scored three goals to lead the Lady Wildcats to an 8-0 win over Valley Forge Christian College. Penn College dominated the match, outshooting Valley Forge, 36-0.
On Sunday against NCAA Division II St. Thomas Aquinas, the Wildcats dropped a 2-1 overtime decision to end the regular season with a 9-6-2 mark. Penn College now waits to see if it will be awarded an at-large berth in the USCAA Championships, which begin Oct. 30.
Also during the week, it was announced that Bowes was named the USCAA Women's Soccer Goalie of the Week for the period ending Oct. 13. In the team's 2-1 week, Bowes recorded two shutouts and notched 17 saves against Alfred, N.Y., State. She allowed only one goal in the three games with a .955 save percentage.
The Wildcats closed out their regular PSUAC season Thursday night with a 25-6, 25-15, 25-13 win over PSU Scranton. Courtney Gernert led the Wildcats with 17 kills and added 11 aces while Catie Aviles had 27 assists.
On Saturday, the regular season ended with losses to NCAA Division III Alfred State by scores of 25-13, 25-20, 25-6 and 25-11, 25-11, 25-3, to go to 12-19 overall.
ON THE HORIZON
In a recent poll of PSUAC coaches, the Penn College men were picked to finish tied for 11th with PSU Greater Allegheny among 14 teams and the Lady Wildcats were picked to finish fifth among 13 women's teams. Penn State Beaver was the coaches' choice to win championships in both the men's and women's divisions.