The defending Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) champion, the Slippery Rock University’s men’s soccer team is ready to return to action, and new head coach Andy Hoggarth is ecstatic about having a fresh opportunity with such a talented group of players.
“From a coaching standpoint and coming into the program, it’s good to have a few seniors who will be playing with such a chip on their shoulder and who don’t think we were ranked high enough,” Hoggarth said.
Hoggarth, who comes to SRU after being an assistant for the University of Akron’s women’s soccer program, is both excited and optimistic about how well his new team will play this season, despite the Rock only being projected to finish fourth within the conference behind Mercyhurst University, Millersville University, and West Chester University.
“It’s good motivation for us, and hopefully we’ll show people we should be higher than just fourth place,” Hoggarth said.
The Rock’s offense will be led by returning forwards senior Dom Francis, junior Peter Boylan, and reigning PSAC Championship game Most Valuable Player, senior Stephen Donnelly. Donnelly, who earned All-Region, All-PSAC, and All-American honors from Daktronics, led the team with 18 points in 2013 with eight goals and two assists. Francis finished the 2013 season with 17 points, scoring six goals and five assists.
The midfield will welcome back returning seniors Brandon Chiu and Anthony Jack. Chiu played a vital role in the team’s offense, supplying four goals and two assists. The midfield will also include sophomore Mike Pcholinsky, who made 20 appearances as a freshman in 2013.
“Coach Hoggarth’s structure is far more offensive as to where last year our structure was more defensive,” Chiu said. “We still want to keep the old mentality that we had on defense, but the new structure will require us to be more talkative with our defensive backs during games.”
The Rock will benefit from the return of 2013 starting defenders senior Josh Brake, and junior Ryan Boylan. Coach Hoggarth will need to find steady replacements for All-Americans Declan Brennan and
Joshua Gray, who both graduated last May. Senior Ryan Van Dorick, junior Stephen McConahy, and junior Nick Kutcher each saw a significant amount of playing time last season, and are working hard to move into an everyday starting role. Hoggarth has the difficult task of replacing Joe Agerskow, Slippery Rock’s goalkeeper in 2013 who graduated in the spring. Junior Kyle Hoffer and sophomore Steven Rerick both return to the team this season, although neither made any appearances for the Rock in 2013. The Rock also welcomes junior Logan Mears who transferred from Mercyhurst Northeast. Mears started 13 games with two shutouts for Mercyhurst Northeast in 2013, allowing 22 goals with 61 saves and a save percentage of .735. Hoggarth declined to announce who would be the team’s starting keeper until after this weekend’s scrimmage with Notre Dame.
The team opens the regular season at home against the University of D.C. at James Egli Field on Thursday, Sept. 4 at 4 p.m.