The seven seniors on the 2008 Muhlenberg men’s soccer team ended their careers with another solid season.
The Mules went 12-6-1, qualified for the Centennial Conference playoffs, and were ranked as
high as sixth in the
region. And they weren’t far off from doing much better – Muhlenberg played five games against teams that went to the NCAA Tournament and won one, tied one and lost the other three 1-0.
Dalton earned All-CC honors in three of his four years with the Mules.
The seven seniors, all of whom were starters or significant reserves, compiled a record of 45-21-5 during their four years, reaching the CC playoffs each season and the NCAA Tournament twice.
After splitting their first four games, the Mules started to hit their stride, winning four in a row, beginning with a 2-1 victory against local rival Moravian. They followed that with a 2-0 shutout of Franklin & Marshall, one of the defending CC regular-season champions, a 2-0 blanking of traditional nemesis Elizabethtown, and a 3-0 whitewash of Gettysburg, which had tied eventual national champion Messiah and would go on to earn the second seed in the CC playoffs.
The momentum was slowed down when Muhlenberg hit the road for
two more tough opponents, losing 1-0 at Dickinson and tying Johns Hopkins, 0-0. After a non-CC win at DeSales, the Mules suffered a shocking and damaging setback when they lost to Washington for the first time ever.
Muhlenberg recorded 19 shutouts and allowed only 30 goals in Barnold’s 40 career starts.
Muhlenberg regrouped to win another four in a row, including a 2-1 victory against Drew (ranked fifth in the region) and a 5-1 defeat of Haverford on Senior Day.
In their final home game, the Mules suffered a 1-0 loss to Swarthmore, ranked 17th in Division III, but they went on to clinch a playoff berth with a 3-0 shutout at Ursinus in the last game of the regular season.
Muhlenberg was the fifth seed in the CC playoffs and had to travel to Dickinson again, and the result was the same: a 1-0 loss, this one in overtime.
At the end of the season, the most decorated senior of the seven was one who hardly played his first three years. Goalie Joseph Gogel earned first-team All-CC and third-team all-region honors after recording a 0.75 goals-against average, .811 save percentage and eight shutouts in his first year as a starter.
Three other seniors earned All-CC accolades: Billy Dalton and A.J. Barnold joined Gogel on the All-CC first team, while Greg Leischner received honorable mention. Dalton led Muhlenberg
in scoring with 18 points and finished his career with 15 goals and 12 assists. Barnold started at center back on a defense that allowed only 12 goals in the last 18 matches, and Leischner scored a career-high nine points.
Gogel was 37th in Division III in goals-against average.
Rounding out the senior seven were starting left back Andrew Brick, speedy midfielder Steven
Tenenzapf (career-high nine points in 2008) and clutch goal-scorer Brendan Carroll (25 career points).
So what’s left for the future? The team was bolstered by the addition of two players who received All-CC honorable mention in their first year as Mules. Sophomore transfer Tom Reilly scored 15 points, with three of his six goals coming against Neumann (the first hat trick by a Mule since 2000), and freshman Cody Antonini scored 13 points, with a team-leading four in CC games.
Eric Miller will enter his senior season as the leading active scorer (24 career points), while sophomores Mike Williams and Evan Rubin were key contributors for the second straight year.
Junior Adison Weseloh found success as a midfielder after playing forward previously, and junior Samuel Hayden and sophomore Matthew Cecconi started in the back the entire year. Junior Nick Jones started five games in the back.