NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. - After the best season in program history, student-athletes from the Penn State New Kensington men’s soccer team anxiously awaited Fall Championship Bid Day announcements by the United States Collegiate Athletics Association (USCAA) on Nov 3. The annual event declares which teams have earned the chance to play in USCAA national tournaments later in the month, a feat that no previous campus soccer team had yet achieved, until they earned the sixth seed for tournament play in Virginia Beach.
"It felt so great to hear our name,” remembered Mark Duffield, head coach. “It was a fine reward for all the hard work the guys put in.”
The team completed the Penn State University Athletic Conference (PSUAC) season with a record of 12-5, the program’s historic and best win total, helping to propel them to receiving the national bid placement.
“I am extremely proud of the way this team has represented our campus all year long,” said Megan Bratkovich, director of athletics at the campus. “They show a commitment to their sport, to their academics and to a high standard of sportsmanship.”
Both Bratkovich and Duffield credit the team’s success to a unified and engaged returning student-athlete roster, as well as its first-year members.
“A huge factor was leadership from our seniors,” said Duffield, who became head coach four years ago. “Two of those seniors, Brady Braun and Nolan Johngarlo, have been with me since day one and helped build this. They were key factors in mentoring the younger guys.”
Bratkovich added, “There is tremendous senior leadership on this team, and I was able to see them shine this past weekend on a national stage. We also have some incredible young talent that will be able to carry on the growth of program. Coach Duffield set out to change the culture of the program when he stepped foot on campus, and he has done just that.”