After a successful overseas trip to Italy earlier this month, the Stevenson University men’s soccer team begins fall practice August 18 trying to pick up where they left off at the end of the 2009 season. The Mustangs finished 12-10-1 losing 3-2 to Wesley in the ECAC South semifinals. More importantly, the young squad went 7-2-1 over its last ten games.
“The trip to Italy was a fantastic experience, great for team building and chemistry that will help us this season,” said head coach John Plevyak. “The kids got a once in a lifetime experience.”
The Mustangs went 1-2 in Italy playing against small town club teams. “The teams we played were a bit older than us and we we’re competitive” said Plevyak. “We won a game that the Italian Club did not expect,” Plevlak said. He was referring to his team’s 2-1 victory over Calcio Ceregnano, “They had never lost to an American team.”
Entering his fourth season as the Mustangs coach, Plevyak is quickly making Stephenson a major player in the highly competitive CAC conference sharing CAC Coach of the Year honors in 2009.
“York, Salisbury and Mary Washington are established powers that keep reloading and are not going to back up,” Said Plevyak. “We played well last year beating Salisbury, but we’re going to have to step it up this season.”
In the National Soccer Coaches Association’s 2010 preseason poll, York is ranked 8th and Salisbury is ranked 20th. “They make the conference very tough,” he said.
Plevyak is hoping that his focus on player development over the last few years will help continue the progression in conference play. “We were young last year and will be again this season.” Plevyak said. “But when I started, we had 14 players and this year we’ll have 51 players.”
Having the 51 players gives Stevenson the luxury of fielding both a varsity and junior varsity team which is valuable in building quality depth. “Having more players will make us stronger as we build for the future.” said Plevyak.
As the Mustangs prepare for the 2010 season, Plevyak is counting on a core group of players to lead the team. He mentioned senior captain and midfielder Sean Scarselletta, senior defender Justin Bean, junior goalkeeper Ryan Flannelly and sophomore midfielder Ansger Otto. “Sean and Justin have started every game since they were freshman,” commented Plevyak. “Along with Flannelly, they are strong in the back.”
Flannelly was second team All-CAC in 2009 recording five shutouts. Otto was named to the first team All-CAC as well as the ECAC Division III South Rookie of the Year.
The Mustangs open the season Sept 1 at home against Bridgewater, and then travel to Williamsport, PA to play in a mini four team tournament with SUNY-Cortland, Montclair State and Lycoming. Montclair State is ranked 19th in the preseason poll so Stevenson could potentially get an early test if they beat SUNY-Cortland in the first game.
“Montclair has been great for a few years,” said Plevyak. “Hopefully we’ll get to play them.”