Penn College coaches are hopeful

Five of eight Pennsylvania College of Technology fall sports teams debut in non-conference action this week as the men’s soccer team opens at 7 p.m. Friday at Hood College, the women’s soccer team begins at 7 p.m. Friday at King’s College, the men’s and women’s cross-country teams open at 6 p.m. Friday at Misericordia University and the women’s volleyball opens at 10 a.m. Saturday at Lycoming College in a quadrangular that includes Clarks Summit University and Wilkes University.

MEN’S SOCCER

Young, yet skilled and deep. That is how coach Tyler Mensch describes his team that is coming off an 8-12-2 overall season, 5-4-1 in the North Eastern Athletic Conference, where it lost in the semifinals.

“We’re going to be able to play 20-22 guys every game at a high level. We’re not going to have any drop-off. Our substitutes are just as good as our first-teamers and that makes things exciting,” the fourth-year coach said, adding, “I’m so excited about this year, on paper I really like what we’re doing and it’s fun to talk about.”

Top players returning from a year ago include sophomore center-midfielder Chris McFarland, junior outside and midfielder Greg Dorsch and senior forward Austin Dowrick, who led the team in scoring.

“Last year, Chris was probably our best player on the field. He has really good vision and is really good on the ball. He’s going to be our main playmaker this year, he’s the guy that we rely on setting up our forwards to score goals,” Mensch said, noting that McFarland also is the team captain.

Most of the other key players will be freshmen, according to the coach, who anticipates starting seven of them.

“So far, this is the most team-oriented group that I’ve had. The freshmen outnumber the (12) returners, but there is no divide. They’re all intermixed and hanging out. I think on the field that’s going to help take away some of the nerves of the younger guys … The overall play is significantly improved, with the younger guys pushing the upperclassmen, and visa-versa,” Mensch said.

WOMEN’S SOCCER

Despite fielding a team that includes five sophomores and 14 freshmen, first-year interim coach Christa Matlack is hopeful that the Wildcats can match or improve on last year’s achievements, which included a 9-8-5 overall record and a 6-2-2 regular season mark in the NEAC, where the squad lost in the championship.

Key returning players are sophomore goalkeeper Taylor Gonzlez, junior center-back Francesca Timpone and sophomore forward Dominique Brown. Timpone was a second team all-conference choice a year ago and Gonzalez and Brown third-team honorees. Two other all-conference selections from last year — junior Breica Beck and Ashley Donat — will not play due to academic conflicts.

“The team is returning a number of key players, and has the potential to build off of the success of last season. There are some critical roles that need to be filled, but members of the incoming class have potential to step in to fill these voids immediately. As long as the athletes continue to work to their potential and grow as a unit, there is no reason why the team cannot continue to be successful in the NEAC,” Matlack, a former soccer standout at South Williamsport Area High School and Bucknell University, said.

“We are looking for the incoming players to quickly integrate into the team dynamic, so we can continue where we left off last fall. The hope is that the group will advance tactically and technically throughout the 2018 season,” Matlack continued.

MEN’S AND WOMEN’S CROSS COUNTRY

Penn College teams are coming off a 2017 high under coach Nick Patton when the men finished second in the NEAC meet and the women ninth — and both squads return key runners who were instrumental in helping achieve that success.

For the men, Josh Velez returns for his third season. Last year he placed second at the conference meet and was awarded first-team NEAC honors for the second time in his career. Also returning are senior Thomas Runner, another first-team NEAC honoree and sophomore Matthew Leiby.

Leading the Penn College women is sophomore Sidney Trunzo, a Jersey Shore grad, who placed fifth in the individual portion of the NEAC Championships and was awarded first-team all-conference honors.

Patton, in his fourth year, said he is looking to those key runners to provide leadership and continue their successful ways. He also referred to three freshmen women coming into the program as a “small class, but it’s a talented little group that will help out quite a bit.”

WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL

Coach Bambi Hawkins enters her 15th season, second in a row after a four-year break, with a young team of all sophomores and freshmen that is working to show improvement.

“(Sophomores) Emalie Marnatie, of Canton, and Christine Limbert, of Curwensville, have returned ready to be in leadership roles,” Hawkins said. “They will not only be representing the team on the court, but their academic standing has also made them eligible to represent the team on the SAAC (Student Athletic Advisory Council) this year.”

“Returning players have continued their eagerness toward team bonding that has helped freshmen and new players to recognize they belong to something bigger than self. This is a group with volleyball experience to make their teamwork even more effective this year than it was last year,” Hawkins said.

The Wildcats are coming off a season during which they finished 3-16 overall and 2-7 in the NEAC and, according to the coach, “progress will be to transform a group of young ladies with high school experience into a college team. We are looking to transform their physical ability as well as their mental intensity toward this higher level of play.”

SCHEDULE

Men’s soccer

Friday – at Hood College, 7 p.m.

Saturday – at Stevenson College, 3 p.m.

Wednesday – at Keystone College, 6 p.m.

Women’s soccer

Friday – at King’s College, 7 p.m.

Wednesday – host Keystone College, 7 p.m.

Men’s cross-country

Friday – at Misericordia University Invitational, 6 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 15 – at Lancaster Bible Charger Invitational, 10 a.m.

Women’s cross-country

Friday – at Misericordia University Invitational, 6 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 15 – at Lancaster Bible Charger Invitational, 10 a.m.

Women’s volleyball

Saturday – at Lycoming College vs. Lycoming, 10 a.m.

Saturday – at Lycoming College vs. Clarks Summit University, noon

Saturday – at Lycoming College vs. Wilkes University, 2:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 4 – at Penn State Altoona, 7 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept, 11 – at Penn State Berks (NEAC), 7 p.m.

Men’s tennis

Saturday, Sept. 8 – at Susquehanna University, noon

Women’s tennis

Monday, Sept. 10 – at Misericordia University, 3 p.m.

Golf

Wednesday, Sept. 12 – at Keuka College Invitational, 10 a.m.

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