Tag Archives: Central Penn Men’s Soccer

Men’s Soccer Season Over, But Aspirations Continue

By Nicholas Tschinkel

Media Club Reporter

The Central Penn College men’s soccer team closed its sophomore season amid cheering from one of its biggest crowds to date.  The match ended in a 5-1 loss to rival Williamson Trade, on Oct. 24 – Homecoming weekend.  The men’s game kicked off around 5 p.m. and was played under the lights of the East Pennsboro High School football stadium.

A Different Game, A Different Perspective

From a spectator’s vantage point, the men might not have appeared to fare much different than in their Oct. 18 game, which the Knights lost 4-0 to Berkeley College of New Jersey.  But to the players, the journey and growth of a new sports program were worth more than any scoreboard could ever tell.  “I’m proud of you boys,” Head Coach Tom Birch said in a postgame huddle. “You guys have guts.”

After my last article on the team, I was welcomed as a player for the final two games of the season.  From the first night at practice, it was obvious: This team is determined to be the best it can be. The players want the developing soccer program at Central Penn to continue for years to come.

Several nights a week, the team convened at the soccer fields behind the East Pennsboro Middle School for practice sessions. Each evening would begin the way any college soccer practice would, with an abundance of running and stretching.

A Fresh Approach

What was noticeable right away was how much the team reflects on prior matches. One of the first practices I attended found the team huddled together on the steel bleachers along the sidelines.  Both coaches stood as the players looked on from the bleachers, at first, listening intently to what Birch and Assistant Coach Andrew Welker had to say. Soon, the script was flipped.

The players were asked to talk about the match they had just lost. Each player was given individual time to voice positives and negatives of the game, and to offer advice on what could be changed.

This approach is novel.

Rather than Birch screaming at the men, critiquing each mistake they had made the day prior, as some coaches might, he let the players replay the story in their own words. He let the players see for themselves what needed to, and could, be fixed. He let them call the shots.

Over the course of the next week or so, the men took to the practice field with determination. One night would be run-heavy, and the next a myriad of passing drills and ball-maintenance puzzles.

One evening as players arrived for practice, Birch informed them he would be leaving to go scout some high school soccer games with Welker. This left the team with a bag full of practice equipment and no directions.

Rather than blow off practice, the men got straight to work with a team jog that culminated in a stretching circle. From there, the men practiced passing, attacking, shooting and defensive drills, all things that could help in their attempt to win the upcoming Homecoming game.

This determination to learn from their mistakes and become better one practice at a time echoes the nature of what it means to be a member of the Central Penn men’s soccer team: They work hard, they are dedicated to improvement and they constantly move forward as a cohesive unit toward a college sports program that functions well.

The Knights confer with their coaches. It was a tough, but full-throttle, season. “You guys have guts,” Coach Birch told his team.

The Knights confer with their coaches. It was a tough, but full-throttle, season. “You guys have guts,” Coach Birch told his team.

Working on The Mechanics

By the time the Homecoming game against Williamson Trade rolled around, the team was prepared to give the Mechanics its best effort.

The day began with the team cheering on the Central Penn women’s soccer team, as the ladies took on SUNY Delhi. (The Lady Knights lost 9-2.)  At halftime of the women’s game, the men’s team took to the practice field and began to warm up, working on passing drills. This gave both coaches the opportunity to run through the game plan and discuss the starting lineups.

All the running drills had paid off. An otherwise daunting hour-long warm-up session went by smoothly, because the players were in peak physical shape. All they wanted was for that opening whistle to sound, and to get the ball moving toward Williamson Trade’s side of the field.

After the National Anthem and starting lineups were broadcast over the loudspeakers, the match was underway.

The action started off competitive, with a good back-and-forth for the first 15 or so minutes of the game. Williamson Trade knocked first, scoring one on goalkeeper Jesse Berger.  A hard sod sent the ball bouncing all over the field. It would be difficult to maintain possession and make decisive moves during the game.

It became clear from the start that the so-called 50/50 balls – a soccer ball by itself that two players have an equal chance of getting to first – would be a major factor in determining who would win the game.

By the end, Williamson Trade came out on top, with a 5-1 victory, but not before a red card (Williamson Trade) and multiple yellow card penalties (both sides).

Shoulders to Wheel Honed the Team

Even though they lost, the hard work and skill of the men on the Central Penn soccer team cannot be accurately represented by a score, or how many shots were taken at the goal. Each player has his own individual story, but as a whole, the men on the Central Penn soccer team have overcome adversity. They stuck with a new program, even when there were not enough players to field a full 11-man roster.

They played matches without any substitutions. They lost every game except for one. And yet, they kept coming back day after day to train and to be better.

Why?

It is because the men of the Central Penn soccer team are driven not just to be the best they can, but also because they are laying the pathway for the future of the men’s soccer program at Central Penn College.

Without the tenacity and never-quit effort of the players, the future of the team would look bleak. Fortunately, the future looks promising, as scouting is underway.

Moving Onward

Both the coaches and the players look optimistically toward next season, when they hope to be not just as good, but more competitive, in the United State Collegiate Athletic Association.

“There were plenty of bright spots we can look back upon,” said Knights defender Greg Walker. “I think the belief is there and next season we will be looking to take the next step as a program.”

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Second Season Brings Men’s Soccer High Hopes

By Nicholas Tschinkel

Media Club Reporter

The Central Penn College men’s soccer team will be closing the season with two home games this month – one on Sunday at 2 p.m. against Berkeley College of New Jersey and one on Oct. 24 at 5 p.m. against Williamson Trade.

Sunday’s game will be played on the East Pennsboro Middle School soccer fields. The Oct. 24 game, part of Central Penn’s homecoming and the team’s final conference game of the season, will be played on Central Penn’s home field, at East Pennsboro High School.

Head Coach Tom Birch says the team is especially looking forward to the homecoming match, saying it offers, “Nothing to lose, everything to gain.”

The Knights are in only their second season of existence and regardless of what they do in the final two games, they have already raised the bar from last season.

The very existence of the team finalized abruptly in 2014, which gave the coaching staff little time to recruit and train players from the school. However, the team has seen significant improvements in its sophomore year, scoring 16 more goals to date than last year.

This year, the team has scored two victories – a 9-0 match against Mid-Atlantic Christian University, which forfeited its second game with Central Penn. The team won no games during its first season.

More goals and one on-field win are likely direct results of the practice and workout sessions Birch and Assistant Coach Andrew Welker hold for their scholar athletes. The team begins to practice in late spring, and eases into more physically demanding sessions as the days grow warmer. Mandatory practices then begin one month prior to the team’s first game.

When asked to describe a typical practice, both coaches and players agreed: The practices are challenging and just like games.

“Intense. We work hard,” says team co-captain John “Jt” Lumbard when asked about the way practices normally run.

Birch and Welker look to train the players with the fundamentals they need to continuously improve individual athletes’ skills and the quality of the men’s soccer program as a whole. Their coaching style is to run practices hard so the men are ready and in shape for games.

Soccer pic -- men's team

The Central Penn Knights men’s soccer team was out for a morning jog before its game against Mid-Atlantic Christian University, Elizabeth City, North Carolina. From left are Daouda Bamba, Jesse Berger, JT Lumbard, Ricardo Leader, Greg Walker, Jadon Buser, Dino Santiague, Zach Sprague, Matt Wright, Mark Swope, Steve Osungo, Keon Williams and Marnel Cherentant. Photo by Tom Birch

Intense practice sessions can certainly prepare the team for big matchups such as the upcoming game against Williamson Trade, a game many Knights have talked about and looked forward to.

“Williamson Trade is the big one for us,” Birch says. “They beat Central Penn 2-0 last year.”

He says the team wants nothing more than to “flip the script” and show that Central Penn has improved, and is a team worth paying attention to.

The physically demanding practice sessions may very well have given the team the conditioning it needs to come away with a victory in the final conference game.

The Knights’ Mark Swope echoed his coaches’ comments, saying, “If we can implement what we do at practice and in drills, we’ll be very prepared for the conference final (against Williamson Trade).”

“The team is hungry – hungry for wins,” says player Steve Osango. “I see potential. I see victories.”

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