The Slippery Rock’s men’s soccer team broke into the national ranking and recorded two shut outs on the road against Alderson-Broaddus and the University of Pittsburgh Johnstown to improve their season record to 3-0-2.
Head coach Michael Bonelli is very pleased with the team’s performance so far this season and their fast start.
“Although we are excited, we have a veteran team who knows it is a long season,” Bonelli said. “Our upperclassmen have done a great job setting the standard for our younger players. Our two senior captains, Drew Donoghue and Clayton Master, have really stepped up and demanded excellence on a daily basis from their teammates.”
The Green and White traveled to Philippi, W. Va. last Saturday for their first road game of the season. They scored four goals and stayed strong defensively to earn their first shut out of the season.
Senior defender Blake McChesney feels confident in the team’s growing ability and how things are panning out so far this season.
“Our defensive shape is definitely improving game by game, and our team shape has been excellent,” McChesney said.
Sophomore midfielder Brandon Chiu sank the first goal in the seventh minute of the game off of an assist from junior midfielder Zach Hall.
The next three goals for the Rock were scored during the first 21 minutes of the second half. Freshman midfielder Max Aronica took a free kick from junior defender Joshua Gray in the 51st minute to score his second goal of the season. About five minutes passed and junior forward Thad Madzelonka took an assist from Aronica to increase Slippery Rock’s lead to 3-0.
The final goal of the game came from sophomore forward Stephen Donnelly is the 66th minute of the game. That was Donnelly’s third goal of the season.
Slippery Rock dominated the game against the Battlers by holding them to four total shot attempts and zero shots on goal.
Donoghue said the team has been able to do well due to the quality of the players and their ability to stay driven and focused.
“Guys are fighting for starting positions daily and pushing one another during training,” Donoghue said. “We’re able to play a high tempo game this season due to the talent and depth that we have on the roster. We have the potential to do big things.”
On Tuesday, the Rock went to Johnstown, Pa. to face off against Pitt-Johnstown. UPJ is currently a member of the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference but will become a member of the PSAC next fall.
SRU dominated the opening period of the game and gained momentum with a goal from senior forward Michael Ramirez in the 38th minute. Ramirez took an assist from sophomore forward Chris Davis.
Junior midfielder Mike Roopchandsingh took the Rock’s lead to 2-0 when he took an assist from Donnelly in the 53rd minute of the game.
The final goal of the game came from freshman midfielder Ryan Lutke in the 85th minute of the game. Lutke took an assist from freshman forward Peter Boylan to record his first career goal.
Slippery Rock held UPJ defensively the entire game. Master recorded three saves in goal to help earn the second shut out of the season.
The team is proud of their accomplishments, McChesney said, but they are staying focused and trying to not let the success go to their heads.
“We really want to focus on continuing to improve so we can hit full stride and play the best soccer we can,” McChesney said. “We have high hopes and expect to accomplish them.”
National rankings were released on Tuesday, just a few hours before the Rock prepared to face Pitt-Johnstown. Slippery Rock was placed 25th nationally and 3rd in the Atlantic Region. This is the first time they have been nationally ranked in the National Soccer Association of America/Continental Tire Division II since early in their 2010 season.