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.
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.”