With consistent success comes high expectation. When it comes to the 2011 Geneva College men’s soccer team, the expectations for success have never been higher. As the Golden Tornadoes and head coach Gary Dunda become active members of the Presidents’ Athletic Conference for the first time in 2011, they will be looking to build off of a solid campaign in 2010. Dunda took over the reins of the Geneva program in 2010 and helped lead the Golden Tornadoes to a 14-3-2 mark. Only a disappointing NCCAA regional loss to Roberts Wesleyan dampened the spirits of an otherwise successful first season under Dunda. As Geneva puts 2010 in the rear view mirror and looks forward to the 2011 season, many of the main contributors will be back in the fold at the Merriman Athletic Complex.
“Each student-athlete in our program has a clear vision of what success looks like on the field and in the classroom,” says head coach Gary Dunda. “It begins with individual and team accountability and takes the responsibility for your role on the team. A vital piece of the puzzle is that each person embraces their role and performs it to their highest ability.” The Golden Tornadoes certainly achieved many of their goals in 2010, but the 2011 season poses a new challenge as Geneva will be playing its first year as a full and active member of NCAA Division III and the Presidents’ Athletic Conference. “We have several challenges ahead of us,” says Dunda. “We will be looked at completely different this season and we understand that our conference foes will make it difficult for us to reach our goals.”
Dunda will have several veterans to look toward to help navigate through the PAC. A quintet of seniors will most likely provide the type of leadership and accountability that Coach Dunda will demand. With the likes of Jake McCracken, Austin Petrie, Caleb Musselman, Josh Mann and David Harwood in the mix, the underclassmen should get a very good feel of how things are to be done within the Geneva men’s soccer program. On the field, McCracken led the Golden Tornadoes with nine goals and 22 total points a year ago. Musselman accounted for seven goals with the other three seniors combining for 12 tallies. “It is certainly a good feeling to have a group of seniors that all work extremely hard and can set the bar very high for everyone else,” says Dunda. “We demand a great deal from our seniors and this class has the chance to be very special.” An extension of that senior class and adding an influx to the upperclassmen will be David Gerlach. Along with McCracken and Musselman, Gerlach is one of Geneva’s tri-captains and in Dunda’s mind will play a key role in the 2011 success. “He is our rock on the field,” says Dunda. “You won’t see a lot of him on the stat sheet, but for our team he is a most important component each and every day.”
Other key returning contributors include junior goalkeeper Evan Biedenbach, who posted 5 saves, three shut-outs and 12 victories while posting a 1.05 goals against average a year ago. “Evan continues to improve each day as a goalkeeper,” says Dunda. “We love the fact that he now has experience as a starting goalkeeper and should provide some more stability on the back line of our defense.”
Musselman should be joined in the back by returning starter Jon Mathoslah along with a collection of players that have seen significant action over the past two years. “We feel good about our defense but we will need some folks to step forward and play a larger role for us this year. It is a great opportunity for some guys to increase their role with some diligence and hard work.”
Dunda and his staff worked hard to bring some fresh faces into the fold for 2011. A total of eight freshmen and one transfer will be donning the Geneva uniform for the first time this fall and will hopefully provide some depth at several positions while also gaining significant playing time. “We are relying heavily on some of these newcomers to make an immediate impact,” says Dunda. “We really strive for equity in each of the four classes,” says Dunda. “This provides us with stability as player’s transition into college soccer.” The transition needs to be a smooth one as the 2011 Geneva men’s soccer team left nothing to the imagination when it came to their opponents. In addition to a rigorous PAC schedule, the Golden Tornadoes have scheduled a very challenging non-conference group. Not the least of which is defending NCAA Division III national champion and Gary Dunda Alma mater Messiah College. “Playing Messiah gives us a great opportunity to measure ourselves against the best,” says Dunda. “If we have aspirations of being the best then we need to play the best.”
As a new era of men’s soccer begins for Geneva as an active member of the PAC, the excitement level has never been higher. “We have a great combination with guys of experience in all four classes,” says Dunda. “We have several very good players which bring much excitement and anticipation, but nothing will be given to us. We will have to work extremely hard each day in training to reach our goals and I know our guys will be up for those challenges.”