Penn State Preview
Aug. 26, 2004
Most of the current team was around when Penn State won its second Big Ten Championship in 2002. That experience, combined with last year's sixth-ranked recruiting class and this year's highly regarded incoming freshmen, makes for a promising 2004 campaign.
"We have some experienced campaigners coming back," said head coach Barry Gorman, who is the all-time wins leader at Penn State. "Especially when you look at the number of games that Pasi Karppinen, Kenji Treschuk, Anthony Calvano, Chad Severs, David Walters, Brian Devlin and Gabe Bernstein have under their respective belts. We are going into games this year with guys who have been around the block."
This year's team captains, Bernstein and Walters will lead the charge into the 94th season of Penn State men's soccer. Severs will return to put his finishing touches on the Nittany Lion record books.
"These guys are playing for their college careers," Gorman said. "This is it. You have guys who have seen the highs from two years ago, and you have guys who have seen the low from last year. There is motivation, and there is experience. This is a class that has playing minutes under their belts, and now they want to go out on a high."
Costanzo is a midfielder in the mold of current Penn State players Devlin and Walters.
Taylor has received many goalkeeping accolades and will push sophomore Matt Novchich for playing time.
"He is going to push Novchich, and Novchich is going to push him," Gorman said. "We have two very good young goalkeepers."
Ryan Badaracco, Yan Carvalho, Michael Choate, Habib Diouf, Geordie MacNeill, Dan Shaffer and Larry Yeboah round out this year's incoming class.
That word is "competition."
"There is a lot of competition," he said. "And competition is good for the forward spot. Competition is good for a coach's health. Competition is good for players to bring out the best in themselves. I think we are going to have people in the lineup who are going to be capable of scoring goals."
Severs, Omekanda, Ninic, Zewe, Lindemann and Brian Tully should provide plenty of experience and depth at the forward position.
Bernstein, Devlin, Walters and Jeff Chambers need no introduction at the midfield position. They clog the middle of the field and make it difficult for any opposing team to set up its offense. Costanzo, Carvalho and Shaffer will give it another dimension that was missing in 2003.
"I am pleased with the midfield position because we have added to it as well," Gorman said. "We have added dimensions that give it more balance. Last year, I thought that we were a little too defensive."
David Gray, Grady Renfrow, Calvano, Karppinen, Treschuk and Markku Viitanen are all back to solidify this group.
The latter four established themselves as the starters last year, and they will have every opportunity to anchor the defense to start the 2004 campaign.
"We feel that we have experience and depth on defense," Gorman said. "Last year, our depth as planned was destroyed by injury because one guy would come back healthy and another guy would go out. We had three groups playing together constantly in the spring and that helped greatly."
Gray has been moved back from the midfield position and has come on by "leaps and bounds." Freshman Geordie MacNeill will be added to this mix.
Novchich played his best when he led the Nittany Lions to two difficult wins and a triple overtime thriller against eventual national champion Indiana at the Big Ten Championship. Perhaps more importantly, Novchich gained the necessary experience coaches love to have going into such an important tournament.
Taylor comes in as one of the top high school goalkeepers in the country.
"We have streamlined the squad, and we are working with fewer numbers," Gorman said. "It is like this. That is your job. If you don't do it, then the other guy may. If he doesn't do it, then you get another chance.' It is a scenario that we think will work very, very well. I am very confident in the ability of our two goalkeepers."
"I am excited about this schedule," Gorman said. "If you want to be the best, you have to play the best. Also, if you want people to come watch you play, they want to watch a close soccer game. They want to be entertained. They want to see a close game and good opposition."