2011 MOUNTAIN CAT SOCCER SEASON PREVIEW
With 15 players returning, the Pitt-Johnstown men’s soccer team wants to improve on last season’s 8-9 record and spot in the WVIAC Tournament Quarterfinals. Head Coach Eric Kinsey (12th season) also added seven freshmen to a team that looks to reach the WVIAC Tournament for the fifth straight year. Four Mountain Cats earned spots on last season’s All-WVIAC Teams, including Brian Taslov (Coraopolis, Pa.), a Second-Team NSCAA All-Region choice. Pitt-Johnstown opens its 18-game schedule, which includes three teams that qualified for the 2010 National Tournament, on Sept. 3 at home against Bloomsburg.
Six seniors will take the field for one final year. Goalkeeper Mike Cuccaro (Pittsburgh, Pa.) and defenders Keegan Donovan (Pittsburgh, Pa.), Josh Wentz (Wallenpaupack, Pa.), and Freddy Wolfe (Fishertown, Pa.) will anchor a backline that allowed just 26 goals a year ago. Midfielder Tyler Aldinger (Elizabethtown, Pa.) and forward Clay Kubrick (Pittsburgh, Pa.) bring experience and should bolster the scoring attack.
Junior Marc Bucci (Pittsburgh, Pa.) will serve as the Mountain Cats’ leader on the field. After captaining the squad last year with graduated seniors Taslov and Andy Griffin (Dillsburg, Pa.), Bucci will wear the lone captain’s armband in 2011. “Marc has done a terrific job as our captain, especially through our winter workouts and spring season. Based on the personality of this team, he is the right guy to take us into the season,” Coach Kinsey said.
Players to Watch
Four goalkeepers will compete for the starting job as Cuccaro and sophomore Nolan Levine (McDonald, Pa.) will be joined by incoming freshmen Tim Ofman (New Florence, Pa.) and Eddie Stover (New Kensington, Pa.).
A mix of youth and experience make up the pool of defenders who look to deny opponent scoring chances. Junior Eric Grabiak (Scottdale, Pa.) will organize the back line from his center back position. Donovan, Wentz, and Wolfe, along with freshmen Mike Doller (Farmingdale, NY) and Colm Spillane (Pittsburgh, Pa.) will try to continue 2010’s strong defensive showing. Pitt-Johnstown recorded six shutouts.
Several skilled players return in the midfield, and Coach Kinsey is hoping his team will be able to possess the ball and control tempo. Bucci will patrol the central midfield area, while a trio of players hope to join him. Sophomores Riley McConnell (Beach Lake, Pa.) and Tyler Rothbauer (Pittsburgh, Pa.), and freshman Steven Marsh (Johnstown, Pa.) will battle for playing time. Sophomore outside midfielder Steve Taslov (Coraopolis, Pa.) could also see time in the middle. With the graduation of Griffin and J.P. Schantz (Nazareth, Pa.), the outside midfield positions are a wide open race with Aldinger and Taslov having the most experience. Junior Jesus Salinas (Biglerville, Pa.) and freshman Adam Seitz (Johnstown, Pa.) will hope to make an impact on the flanks.
The Mountain Cats have plenty of optimism on offense with four forwards who accounted for 21 of the team’s 39 goals a year ago back on the roster. 2010 All-WVIAC honorees Zeke Buchta (Mount Pleasant, Pa.) and Derik Swope (Harleysville, Pa.) will spearhead the attack with help from Kubrick and sophomore Bryce DeLizio (Chandler, AZ). Buchta ranked 49th in the nation in goals per game, and Kubrick was 11th in assists per game.
“Although we lost a great group of seniors following last season, I’m confident that the returning guys will keep this program moving in the right direction,” Coach Kinsey said. “Several of the incoming freshmen will compete for quality minutes. We’ll be shuffling some guys around this year in positions that they are not accustomed to so we do have some question marks in our line-up. I think the boys will be up for the season and will do the work required to get us back to the conference tournament.”