(Posted September 1, 2005)

Huntingdon, PA - After a 2004 season that failed to meet its preseason expectations, the Juniata College men's soccer team enters the 2005 season not with a large number of roster changes, but rather with a change in both a new system of play and a new attitude. That combination, along with the return of the team's top seven goal scorers and each of the goalkeepers from a season ago has the Eagles believing that the 2005 campaign could show a vast improvement in the win column.

They new system of play will incorporate placing veteran players in positions they haven't played in the past, along with establishing a new zone defensive scheme. Adopting those changes will also involve the new attitude which emphasizes a new team atmosphere.

"The guys really bought into the new systems and ideas that we've been working on," Head Coach Scott McKenzie stated. "We have some talented veterans on this team, and we've also brought in one of the best recruiting classes. How well this team does may be a result of how effectively the new players can get incorporated with the veterans."

The leaders among those returning players are senior captains Jeff Gehring (Exeter Township/Reading) and Robert Bowser (Dallastown/York). Each has been an All-Conference player during his career, and the duo will look to anchor the offense and defense respectively. Gehring will be joined up front by junior Josh Cady (Malvern Prep./Frazer) who scored a team-best seven goals last season. That pair will be relied on to provide much of the offensive punch for the 2005 squad after combining for 27 points last season.

Joining Bowser in the defensive corps is another senior Kyle Dunn (Central Bucks East/Warrington) and junior Will Marshall (Upper Perkiomen/Pennsburg). Both players bring experience to the defensive group, though Dunn will be making a transition from a midfield position. Dunn could also be an offensive weapon as one of the team's primary free-kick specialists, a role that helped him score four goals last season.

Also back in the fold are the top three goalies from last season. Junior Tim Penrod (Moravia/Moravia, N.Y.) will likely handle the starting duties to start the season, but could split time with senior Nathan Pugh (Shippensburg/Shippensburg) and fellow junior Mark Guthridge (DuBois/DuBois).

"We should be a much faster and deeper team this season," McKenzie said. "Most important we want the team playing with a better purpose and as more of a collective unit. If that happens, with the talent we have here, and coming in this year, this could be a solid season."

Much of the depth will come from the addition of eight freshmen to the team. Mark Turkewitz (Dallastown/York) may have the highest expectations of any of the first-year players as he could be called on to handle a starting midfield spot. There are several other freshmen who could earn field time at each of the position areas.

The Eagles will also look for continued development from sophomores Jon VanBlarcom (Troy/Columbia Cross Roads) and Kenneth Wiles (Rhinebeck/Rhinebeck, N.Y.) who both saw considerable playing time as freshmen.

So with a roster filled with an exciting mix of experience and youth, Juniata hopes it can improve on the 1-6 mark the team posted in the Commonwealth Conference last season. But more important than the roster, it's the changes made both strategically and mentally that could make for the biggest change in the record for the Eagles' men's soccer team.


Our readers respond...

Be the first to provide a response.

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.