Preview: Men's Soccer Poised to Continue Run of Success

Thursday, August 30, 2012 - page 2

For senior co-captain Danny Way, tomorrow marks the beginning of an end.

“It’s bittersweet. I’ve been very blessed with great teams the past three years at Muhlenberg. I’m going to miss it, but I think my body needs to rest a little bit,” said Way in reference to kicking off his final season as a member of the Muhlenberg soccer team.

Way, who led the team last season with 15 points, including seven goals, will have to wait a few months before he can rest up, as the Mules look to continue their impressive record when they open the 2012 season tomorrow at home against Elizabethtown.

Danny Way
Way, a first-team All-CC selection last year, is tied for 17th in program history with 22 career goals.
The Mules went 10-6-1 last season before falling to Dickinson in the Centennial Conference tournament. The team looks to earn its 12th straight CC tournament appearance this fall and tack on another non-losing season to its 26-season streak.

Way has confidence that the team can continue its successful trend this season.

“We can go deep into the tournament by working as a team and working as one unit. We’ve started off on a good note so far.”

Part of that “good note” is the return of senior Cody Antonini, who will accompany Way as a starter on offense for the Mules. Antonini, who took last season off, is a two-time All American who led the team in scoring in both 2009 and 2010 with 26 and 39 points, respectively.

Way says that integrating Antonini back into the starting lineup was the biggest challenge the team faced during the preseason.

“We didn’t know who would fill his role last year, and so it’s nice to have him back this year. We’re adjusting the roles of other people now that he’s back, and it’s been working well. Last year we played a different formation without him.”

A veteran member of the teams fresh formation is senior co-captain Nate Squire, who will start at center midfield. Squire tallied 11 points last season, tied for second-best on the team, with five goals and an assist. Juniors Jacob Joseph and Jeff Reinhart will accompany him in the midfield, as well as sophomore Lance Dotzman. Joseph led the team with four assists last season.

Kyle Plifka
With Plifka earning All-CC first-team honors last season, the Mules allowed only 16 goals in 17 matches. They haven’t allowed more than a goal per game since 2005.
Another veteran is senior co-captain Kyle Plifka, who enters his fourth season as the team’s starting center back. The Mules’ entire starting defensive lineup will remain intact from last season. Supporting Plifka will be juniors Ryan Barlotta and Jonathan Schauer and sophomore Bryan Attanasio.

Returning in goal are senior Ari Nutovits and junior Jas Chojnowski. Nutovits started 10 games for Muhlenberg in 2011, recording five shutouts, while Chojnowski started the other seven games of the season. Nutovits and Chojnowski made 36 and 45 saves, respectively.

Travis Wantchekon, who saw action in 14 games last season as a freshman, will be a key reserve for Muhlenberg in the midfield. Junior Brendan McIntyre also adds to the team’s depth in the midfield and has plenty of game experience, appearing in all but one game last season.

Another experienced member of the junior class is Chris Royer, who played in every game last season, including two starts. He provides offensive versatility and can fill in as either a forward or a midfielder.

Way credits these reserves with maintaining the team’s motivation, especially that of the starters, during preseason practices.

“The subs really push us to work hard during practice. The team has a lot of depth in the different positions.”

Way stated that conditioning is something the Mules have been working on a lot more this year. This conditioning is fostered by the depth of skill on the team, which creates a healthy intra-squad competition among the players.

The team’s competition extended beyond the borders of the United States this summer. At the beginning of August, the Mules spent 10 days in Barcelona, training and competing against club teams from Spain. The trip helped prepare the team for the upcoming season and get an early start on forming the strong team chemistry that will be necessary to continue their tradition of postseason success.

Way says the team-bonding aspect was the best part of the trip.

“We had a lot of fun together and hung out as a team with and without our coach. It was fun to really bond back together as a group outside of our school. It helped us come together as a unit, and we will bring that into the season.”

Even though it’s Way’s final season with the team, the Mules certainly have the talent, confidence and determination they need to extend their games, and his collegiate career, well into the postseason.