Players expect better results ahead

Bobby Scott, Sports Editor

The Pitt-Johnstown men’s and women’s soccer players did not start their seasons the way they would like.  The men started the season off with a non-conference loss to Georgian Court (Lakewood Township, N.J.) 2-0 on Sept. 8.

The women have already started conference play in their inaugural season in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.

The Lady Cats opened the season with a 6-0 loss Sept. 5, at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.  They started a four-game home stand Sept. 7, losing 3-0 to Clarion University.

The Lady Cats have a new coach, Rachel Smith who introduced a new formation in an attempt to improve the team.

Smith brings coaching experience from Southern New Hampshire University (Hooksett, N.H.) where she was an assistant coach for three seasons.  Smith played collegiate soccer at Franklin Pierce University  (Rindge, N.H.) and is a native of Carlisle, Cumberland County.

The women express confidence despite a slow start.

“I would say the expectations for this year is to go at least .500 in the (Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference),” senior defenseman Kate McGrath said.

The team will be going from a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 formation to the new look of 4-5-1.

“We are playing in a new formation so, once we get used to it and things fall into place it is totally realistic,” McGrath said.

The women started a three game home stand over the weekend, losing against new conference foes Lock Haven University 2-0 and Bloomsburg University 4-1.  The women next play Mansfield University Sept. 18.

The Lady Cats are learning quickly that with a new conference also brings a change in pace in how the game is played.

“The (Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference) is much faster and more physical and I think it needs to be played a lot smarter as well,” McGrath said.

“The (West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) had great teams but the (Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference) is known to have the tightest and most competitive league,” senior forward Jackie Becerra said.

“However, regardless of the difference in competition, we are working to improve and turn some heads in the new [conference].”

Senior midfielder and defenseman Lisa Mix also looks to lead the charge in getting better every game, along with captains McGrath, Becerra and Savanna Wingard.

“We are expecting to improve each and every game after getting off on a rough start,” Mix said.  “But things look hopeful as we are getting used to the new conference.”

The men are eager to kick their first season of Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference play after suffering a tough non-conference loss.

The Mountain Cats lost to Lock Haven University 6-0 Friday  and Saturday  to Bloomsburg University 1-0.

The team ends the home stand with two non-conference games against old conference foe Alderson-Broaddus College (Philippi, W. Va.) and against Chowan University (Murfreesboro, N.C.).

The men bring experience as well as youth with 12 players in their first year of collegiate soccer.

“We want to prove that last season’s poor record does not resemble the type of program we have here at UPJ,” junior defenseman Steven Marsh said.  The team finished 1-14-1 last season.

One of the key players is senior captain Tyler Rothbauer.

Fifth year senior Steve Taslov will be playing a big role in the midfield whether it be centrally or wide out.

Head coach Eric Kinsey plans for some freshman to see playing time and make an impact.

“Bobby Colvin is a freshman who we are expecting to contribute significantly as a forward this season,” Kinsey said.

“Another freshman, A.J. McNary has looked strong in the early going, playing as an outside midfielder.”

Kinsey said he feels that the switch in conferences will be easy for the Mountain Cats to adjust to.  “The transition, I think, is a simple one,” Kinsey said.  “The biggest difference will be the pace and physicality that every (Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference) school is known for.”

“We have a very young but talented team but a lot of our success in this league will depend on how we handle those two factors.”