Thursday, August 31, 2017

2017 Wilkes Men’s Soccer Preview: Dawn of a New Era

WILKES-BARRE – Following the retirement of long-time head coach Phil Wingert, Michael Piranian will be looking at the dawn of his own era of Wilkes University men’s soccer in 2017.

The Colonels finished the 2016 season 3-14 overall and 1-6 in Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) Freedom play.

Piranian comes to Wilkes after spending the last two seasons as an assistant at Division I University of Pennsylvania, where he helped coach six All-Ivy League selections, one NSCAA (now the United Soccer Coaches) All-East Region player and helping bring in the 12th-ranked recruiting class in the 2015. “Our schedule has a great balance with nine games at home and nine games on the road,” Piranian said. “We have some quality local opponents that we will need to beat in order to improve our recognition in the region. Many of these games have developed into strong rivalries, which I am excited to be a part of.”

At forward, junior Kyle Joyce and sophomore Cole Hefner will look to take on added responsibilities with increased experience. Newcomers looking to secure playing time during training camp include freshmen Lucas Snedeker and Jeffrey Eager-Heffner. “I am happy to say that there are a few freshmen that have already started to make a positive impact on our play,” Piranian explained.

At midfield, the Colonels will look to sophomore Kyle Bentz (three goals, two assists) and junior Camry Huff (two goals, two assists), the two leading returning scorers from last season, to increase their roles in order to expand on the team’s success. “The returners are ambitious and working hard,” Piranian said. “For the most part our success will depend on the fitness and health of our upperclassmen.” Returning with Bentz and Huff include sophomore Zephrin Morse, senior Austin Kubin, and sophomore Ed Lukowski. Freshmen looking to carve out a spot in their first season include Seth Fowler, Danny McGinley, Jacob Nargoski, and Mason Stoneroad.

On the back line, seniors Casey Ritsick and Tyler Kukosky return along with sophomore Hunnter Maxwell to bring experience as three-fourths of the defensive starters return from last season. Also returning in the backfield are senior David Sinegra, junior Alvaro Fernandez-Maldonado, sophomore Ryan Hunter and sophomore Kyle Flemming. New to the back line are freshmen Shane Henehan and Trent Hess.

In goal, junior Tim Gallagher and sophomore Stephen Johnson return. Gallagher has started every game he has appeared in over his two seasons while Johnson appeared in two games as a freshman.

In his first season as head coach, Piranian will rely on the seniors to help get the job done in practice and games. “We will need every one of our seniors leading and pushing this group in order to reach our goals this season.”

Wilkes begins its season on Friday, September 1st when it will host Penn State-Berks at Schmidt Stadium starting at 4:00 p.m. The Colonels enter MAC Freedom play on Saturday, September 30thwhen they travel to Delaware Valley University for a 2:30 p.m. kick-off. “In regards to our conference schedule, we will have to show our quality on the road as we will have four of our seven games away from home,” Pirnanian commented. “It will be interesting to follow the MAC Freedom as the conference has undergone a lot of changes in head coach roles over the past few months. I am sure the competition will be fierce.”

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