Aug. 29, 2007
Motivated by a 2006 season that was marred by costly injuries and disappointing results, the Penn State men's soccer team embarks on the 2007 campaign with renewed vigor and with the confidence and talent to restore the Nittany Lions to the pinnacle of the Big Ten and propel them back into the NCAA postseason. Head Coach Barry Gorman, entering his 20th season at Penn State, returns a valued group of veterans that includes seven starters and 14 letterwinners. Youth will be a hallmark of the 2007 Nittany Lions, though, as 18 of the 26 players inhabiting the roster are underclassmen. However, no matter the experience or class, all are determined to make this season a special one and maintain Penn State's place among the nation's topflight collegiate programs.
With dynamic forward Simon Omekanda, a two-time first-team All-Big Ten selection, lost to graduation, the Penn State attack will be fronted by junior Jason Yeisley. A co-captain for the 2007 season, he should be fully recovered from knee and foot injuries suffered over the course of the last year. Look for Yeisley to be fully fit by the onset of the season, primed to regain the form that earned him second-team All-Big Ten honors as a freshman. A physical presence at 6-1, 185 lbs., Yeisley is Penn State's top returning scorer, totaling 27 points (11g, 7a) in 29 career starts.
Sophomore Jacobo Vera was off to a promising start in his freshman campaign when a knee injury in late September cut short his season. Seeing action is seven games, he scored one goal, the game-winner in the Nittany Lions' victory over Hartwick. An excellent finisher who is blessed with good size, Vera will have every opportunity to develop into a force on the Penn State attack in 2007.
Freshman Treavor Gelsinger is a true goal scorer who has the talent and poise to make an immediate impact at the collegiate level. A two-time Pennsylvania All-State selection, Gelsinger departed Greencastle-Antrim High School as its all-time leading scorer, totaling 105 goals and 80 assists in his career.
The depth and experience of the midfield position was dealt a significant blow this off-season when junior Ryan Badaracco, a career 33-game starter, was lost for the year with a knee injury. However, back in the lineup at full strength to help anchor the midfield in 2007 will be junior Barkley Miller. On the verge of a breakout season in 2006 after tallying a career-high two goals and two assists, Miller was hindered by a hip injury that cost him the remainder of the year.
Sophomore Daniel Martini should also be a regular in the lineup in 2007 after starting 11 games a year ago, notching a goal and an assist. Classmates Frank Costigliola and Vincent Salvatico will look to build on solid rookie campaigns in 2007.
A group of newcomers, led by freshman Drew Cost, will also push for playing time. Cost, an accomplished and highly decorated player at the high school and club levels, has a flair for goal scoring and will be given every opportunity to display that skill in the season ahead. Diego Correa, a sophomore transfer from St. John's University, and Johnny Daniels, a freshman from Potomac, Md., could also be factors.
A trio of returning starters in seniors Stephen Reihner and Geordie MacNeill and sophomore Andrew Parr will form the foundation of the Nittany Lions back line in 2007. Reihner, a starter of 48 career games, is a versatile player, combining standout defensive abilities with a superb offensive skill set. In 2006, he established or tied season highs in goals, assists, and points. A starter of 51 career games, MacNeill is a solid, experienced defender who is excellent in the air and extremely strong in the tackle. In his freshman season, Parr was in the starting lineup for 15 of the 16 games in which he played and showed the kind of potential that could make him a fixture on the Penn State defense for years to come.
Senior Grady Renfrow and junior Andy Machi will be key figures on the defense as utility players and should vie for slots in the starting lineup. Renfrow is a tough-minded, no-quit player who started a career-high seven games in 2006, while Machi, who has seen playing time in 20 career contests, will be counted on to further improve and make his mark in his junior season.
Quality depth will be supplied by promising freshmen in international recruits Andres Casais and Jon Davidsson and upstate New York native Casey Derkacz.
Conrad Taylor enters his senior season with his standing as one of the greatest goalkeepers in Penn State soccer history already firmly established. A two-time first-team All-Big Ten honoree, Taylor's name is a fixture in the Penn State record book. He ranks fourth in career shutouts with 21, just eight shy of the all-time record, and fourth in career goalkeeping with a 0.98 goals against average. In 2005, he tied the Nittany Lion record for shutouts in a season with 10. Among Taylor's greatest assets are his durability and consistency, as he has started 64 consecutive games and logged every available minute in goal since the first game of his freshman season, a remarkable span of over 6,143 minutes.
Redshirt freshman Liam Fitzwater and true freshman Warren Gross will challenge Taylor for time between the pipes.