Back on the pitch

The Fredonia State men’s soccer team will look to pick up where it left off when it opens its 2013 season this weekend.

The Blue Devils defeated Hobart, 3-2, in their 2012 finale. It was their highest-scoring game last season (5-13-1).

Yet all that will be behind them when they kick off against Baldwin-Wallace at 5 p.m. Friday in the first round of the Penn State Behrend’s Herb Lauffer Memorial Tournament.

The Blue Devils will face either Bethany College or the host Lions on Saturday. The opponent and start time will be determined by the outcome of the Friday games.

A senior leadership group – which includes midfielder Jay Dry, midfielders Josh Best and defender Jakob Persons as tri-captains – has set high goals for 2013, beginning with a return to the SUNYAC Tournament. The team’s last post-season appearance came in 2010.

“I think we’re looking pretty strong this year,” said Persons in a recent interview posted on the team’s blog. “A lot of the team has come together a lot quicker than I thought it might.”

The senior group also includes midfielders Luke Tylutki and Chase Lipshie and defenders Dino Salcic and Joe Pagano. Tylutki was Second Team All SUNYAC the past two seasons, while Lipshie is back after missing the entire 2012 season with an injury. His return to form was noticeable during a pre-season scrimmage vs. Jamestown Community College.

Tylutki and Dry had one goal each in last year’s win over Hobart. What makes that significant is that returning players accounted for only seven goals last year. In addition, it marked only the second time all season players on the 2013 roster scored goals in the same 2012 game.

Dry is the leading returning scorer. He had four goals last season, two of them to win games. Tylutki, Best, and sophomore defender Mike Biggane (Amherst) finished with one goal each.

The 2013 roster includes five players who started in at least half the Blue Devils’ games last year: Dry, Biggane, Tylutki, sophomore defender Keith Braun and junior goalkeeper Michael Schreiner. Schreiner started 13 of the 19 games last season and posted a 5-7-1 record with a 1.85 goals against average. He started all nine SUNYAC games.

NEW NAMES,

EXTRA DUTIES

Head coach P.J. Gondek, who’s beginning his 14th season, has 10 newcomers on the 26-player roster – eight of them freshmen. One of the freshmen, forward Brandon Schick, has displayed a scoring touch during the scrimmages and pre-season drills.

The key losses among last year’s senior class are forward Tyler Williams, who led the team with 12 points (including four goals), and midfielder Ryan Smith, who earned post-season awards in each of his first three seasons as a Blue Devil. Smith and Jeremy Voigt, another 2012 senior, has joined the 2013 coaching staff, which also includes holdovers Dan Smith and John Grabowski.

In addition to his head coaching duties, Gondek will serve as the NCAA Division III national chairman. His committee’s primary job will be to rank and eventually select and seed the field for the 2013 national tournament.

THE SCHEDULE

AT A GLANCE

As for this week, Fredonia State and Baldwin-Wallace will be meeting for the third time in their histories. The most recent meeting was a 2-1 BW win as part of the 2010 Blue Devil Clarion Classic.

As for the Blue Devils’ other potential opponents this weekend, they trail Bethany 7-4 in their all-time series and own a 29-3-1 advantage over Behrend. Their 33-game series with the Lions equals the most games the Blue Devils have played against any non-SUNYAC school, tied with Rochester Institute of Technology.

The Blue Devils will have played eight straight non-conference games including a pair in the Blue Devil Clarion Classic at University Stadium on Sept. 6 and 7 – before entering SUNYAC competition Sept. 27 at Brockport. That will be followed by SUNYAC road games Sept. 28 at Geneseo and Oct. 5 at Buffalo State prior to the first conference home game Oct. 11 vs. Cortland as part of Homecoming Weekend activities.

Other SUNYAC home opponents are Oswego (Oct. 12), New Paltz (Oct. 25), and Oneonta (Oct. 26). The nine-game conference slate will also include a trip to North Country for games vs. Potsdam (Oct. 18) and Plattsburgh (Oct. 19).

The traditional regular-season finale against Hobart – this year in Geneva on Oct. 29 – will precede the start of the SUNYAC Tournament, scheduled to begin Nov. 2.