Knights still unbeaten at 6-0
The Gannon University men’s soccer team has gotten off on the right foot with a 6-0 record to start the season with major contributions from players who were either injured or ineligible to play last season.
Young talent, veteran leadership and strong coaching from Rob van Rheenen have been a recipe for a good start to the 2012-13 season. The Knights are coming off a losing season and are moving in the right direction to change the atmosphere around the team.
“The feeling of having to prove something was shared by myself and the coaching staff,” van Rheenen said.
The team has proven itself up to this point in the season and has earned the No. 9 overall ranking in the NSCAA Division II coaches’ poll. A big reason for the strong start is the goaltending performance from junior goalkeeper Jason Barbarino.
“Barbarino has been playing amazing; his shot stopping has really saved us during our last six games,” said Alex Perri, a sophomore midfielder.
The goalkeeper has been there when the team has needed him in the second half of games and his timely saves have been noticed and appreciated by the coach and team.
Van Rheenen said with players returning from their ineligibility or injuries the team will have no reason to make excuses this year. The Knights are quickly forgetting about last season because they have begun their PSAC schedule with a 3-0 record.
The theme of this year’s team has been resiliency and this point was emphasized with two comeback wins this past weekend— a 4-2 win over Bloomsburg University Saturday and a 3-1 victory over East Stroudsburg University Sunday. The team also thrives in the second half of games, where they have registered 17 of their 20 goals.
The sophomore tandem of Robbie Bennett and Perri have been leading the scoring effort for the Knights with five goals respectively. The confidence from good freshmen seasons allowed the pair to make such a great impact in their second year.
“Rob and I have had a really positive attitude coming into the year knowing how much talent we have on the team and we just feed off of our teammates,” said Perri.
Tyler Hollingsworth, Adam Sharbaugh and Sean Pike balance out the scoring and offensive opportunities while adding veteran leadership to the team. van Rheenen said that he believes the players enjoy playing together as a team and it shows in the chemistry that the team has displayed in its perfect start to this season.
The defensive unit has played well, led by seniors Jonathan Simmons and Craige Dixon. These two are able to show the younger defenders the work ethic needed to be successful and the success has begun for this 2012-2013 season.
The Knights will play at Alderson-Broaddus College 3 p.m. Saturday.
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