2012 W&J Men’s Soccer Preview
Head Coach Ian McDonald has a chance to make history in 2012 as he enters his 22nd season on the sidelines for the Washington & Jefferson College men’s soccer team.
McDonald needs just two wins this fall to reach 200 for his career. He has led W&J to three Presidents’ Athletic Conference titles and seven postseason appearances, including two NCAA Tournaments. However, while the milestones will come in time, McDonald is focused on returning the Presidents to the postseason.
The Presidents’ streak of consecutive appearances in the PAC Tournament (regular-season top four teams qualify for the postseason tournament) was halted at eight last season. W&J returns eight of its top 10 scorers from 2011 along with a group of 13 newcomers, with the hopes of returning to the conference championship match. W&J has played in seven PAC title matches during the past 10 seasons.
“Last season was disappointing due to our recent run of success,” said McDonald, who began his head coaching career in 1991. “The combination of playing a tough schedule (W&J played three NCAA Tournament teams) and suffering some key injuries made it a tough year for us. However, the injuries gave our younger players valuable experience and I believe we will benefit from that.”
Anchoring the midfield will be senior leader Jimmy Gante. Gante was a First-Team All-PAC standout last season and has accumulated 22 career points (8g, 6a) in 51 matches. Joining Gante will be sophomores Paul Boerema, Chris Watson, Kyle Weidman and Dylan Small, all of whom saw action in at least seven games last fall.
Forward Brian Hanna ended last season strong with three goals in the team’s final four games and will look to build on that momentum during his sophomore season. Hanna was an All-PAC performer as he finished as W&J’s leading scorer and the top scorer among freshmen in the conference with 16 points (7g, 2a).
Adding to the offensive attack will be a trio of juniors. Cody Peddicord was the Presidents’ second-leading scorer with six goals and two assists for 14 points and was named Second Team All-PAC. Classmates Thad Piscatelli and Sam Sestito were both limited to just six games due to injuries last fall, but will look to bounce back healthy in 2012. Senior David Banko will also add veteran leadership at the forward position.
Jon Best appeared in eight matches during his freshman goalie campaign and appears to be the front runner to earn a majority of the starts. Best made 13 stops along with a 2.45 goals-against average.
Juniors Greg Musgnug and Cory Ryhal will lead a veteran contingent of defenders for the Presidents. Joining that group will be a sophomore quartet of James Calvert, Connor McKenzie, Nick Vecchio and Roman Vukmanovich.
“We have a strong freshman class that I am very excited about,” added McDonald. “I see a lot of similarities in this young group to the talented classes we have had in the past that led us to the national tournament. I think we will see some freshmen make an immediate impact.”
The Presidents will play three-straight road matches to begin the season with the opener set for Aug. 31 in Cleveland, Ohio, at Case Western Reserve (7:00 pm).