Jon Davison returns to the Hilbert men’s soccer team after an AMCC Second Team All-Conference season in 2012. Photo courtesy Hilbert College.
In two quick seasons since Jeff Panik took over the program, the Hilbert College men’s soccer team has turned the corner and are now considered a contender for the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference championship. With 10 returning players for the 2013 season, last year’s AMCC Coach of the Year and his staff are excited to build a consistent challenger for the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Five seniors will lead the Hawks in their final season. Michael Gee, an AMCC Third Team All-Conference member in his first year with the Hawks in 2012, will anchor the defense again as the team’s on-field captain, in front of goalkeeper Jeremy Kraska. Working up the pitch and carrying the ball forward will be Josh Walsh-Steines in the midfield. His effort will allow Edward Minkel and Yonis Osman to roam in front of the goal looking for a pass.
In their third year with the program, Tyler Coniglio and Matthew Saxton have had a hand in the transformation of the Hawks defense. Expected to challenge for playing time are rookies Anthony Pellicano, Nicolas Rodriguez, Brandon Ciesielski, Kurtis Maloney and Jamestown Community College transfer Nathan Decker.
The midfield will see the greatest change within the team. Sophomore Austin Mathis returns and will battle with first-year Hilbert players to run the offense. Matt Hamister, a sophomore transfer, along with freshmen Daniel Pulaski, Tyler Eister and Tomas Bojkovski will solidify the Hawks on both sides of the midfield line.
The Hawks are excited to see what kind of offensive damage Jon Davison will do to opponents again off an AMCC Second Team All-Conference season. Stepping on the field for the first time looking to score goals will be sophomore Matthew Buehlmann who joined the program in 2012 as a keeper. Other newcomers include Justin Gilfert, Dyllon Hrynczak, Matthew Barth, and Blake Barker up front. In net, freshman Brandon Henry is expected to challenge Kraska for time.
After Hilbert opened its season at SUNYIT on Aug. 31, it hosts Grove City on Sept. 7 in the Hawks’ home opener at 1 p.m. The Hawks other non-conference opponents are at Alfred on Sept. 10, hosting Morrisville on Sept. 14, at Thiel on Sept. 19 and hosting Alfred State on Sept. 21 and Wells on Sept. 25. They begin AMCC play in the last weekend of September and squeeze in the nine league games before the AMCC play-offs begin Nov. 2. The Hawks five seniors will be honored in pre-game activities during the Oct. 19 game against Penn State Altoona.