Beaver Falls, PA - Sometimes you have to take the good with the bad. As far as the 2011 men′s soccer season went, Geneva College enjoyed an incredible 16-6-3 overall record that included a run through the NCCAA national tournament that landed it a runner up trophy. The Golden Tornadoes settled for second place at both the NCCAA tournament and within the PAC tournament. In 2012, Geneva is looking to take that next big step. Head coach Gary Dunda and the Golden Tornadoes open camp later this week to begin preparations for the 2012 season.
There cannot be many collegiate teams in the country that are looking forward to the 2012 campaign more than the Geneva College men′s team. After a very satisfying season in 2011 that also proved to be frustrating, the Golden Tornadoes are chomping at the bit to get back on the field and finish what they started a year ago. Geneva finished the 2011 season with an impressive 16-6-3 overall record that included a mark of 6-1-1 in the Presidents′ Athletic Conference. The Golden Tornadoes suffered a heartbreaking one-goal loss to Thomas More in the PAC title game prior to making an even more impressive run through the NCCAA (National Christian College Athletic Association) national tournament. Entering the tournament as the eighth seed and the only non-scholarship team in the tournament, Geneva upended the second and third seed before falling to top seeded California Baptist 2-1 in the national championship. "It was an amazing experience for our guys," says head coach Gary Dunda. "We had the opportunity to play some top notch competition in the post-season that will only help our program′s progress moving forward."
Although Geneva has some unfinished business to attend to in 2012, the cupboard is far from empty for the Golden Tornadoes. Geneva did suffer some key losses to graduation but returns a good portion of key contributors on both offense and defense. A pair of talented threats who combined for 11 goals a year ago returns to fuel the offense. Jeb Nash (seven goals) and Teddy Krzywiecki are back to lead the offense. "Jeb and Teddy are both very good 1 v 1 players," says Dunda. "They both can create their own offense and help create goal scoring opportunities for our other attacking players."
On the defensive side of the field, Geneva will rely heavily on the play of Jon Mathoslah. A four-year starter, Mathoslah will again be the backbone on the defensive side of the field. Handling much of the area in the midfield will be senior David Gerlach. "David provides such consistency in the midfield. He is a solid player in every aspect and anchors our midfield. He wins nearly every ball around him and is an outstanding distributor of the ball." The experience of a lengthened 26 game schedule as well as a trip to Spain in the spring should prove to be a great learning tool for an already experienced group. "We have ten seniors on the roster and each of them provides leadership in different ways for our program," says Dunda. "Many of our guys that gained valuable experience throughout the post-season run should be ready to step in immediately and contribute. There is no substitute to playing competitive soccer at this level," says Dunda. "Guys like Troutman (Jeremey), Barr (Keenan), Masters (Garrett), Shipley (John) and Herman (Jesse) have benefited greatly because of the experience gained last year."
The final line of defense may be Geneva′s strongest area in 2012. The duo of Bryan Butler and Evan Biedenbach could be the best tandem in the PAC. While Biedenbach is coming off a season ending knee injury and will be playing in his senior season, Butler will try to match an incredible freshman campaign in the net. Butler posted a 0.85 goals against average that included seven shut-outs while Biedenbach made his share of saves with a 1.73 average in 2012. "We are very strong in the goalkeeping area," says Dunda. "Evan will provide some needed depth at the position while Bryan seems to keep getting better every day. He had a great freshman season and we expect much of the same this season."
Gary Dunda and the Golden Tornadoes certainly don′t shy away from playing the best teams in the region. Highlighted by another non-conference tilt with perennial powerhouse Messiah, Geneva will play a rigorous schedule before even seeing any PAC teams. "We are always going to play the most aggressive schedule we can find," says Dunda. "We are about playing the best so we can be the best."
With the fuel of frustration driving the men′s soccer program in 2012, the sky could be the limit for the Golden Tornadoes as they seek to take the final step in becoming a conference champion. "We have a lot of work to do and last year means nothing. We have to continue to improve everyday and be a consistent team for 90 minutes every time out." If Geneva finds a way to be consistent each time out, it may be time to clear some space in the Geneva College trophy room.