Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
With only three seniors on its roster this fall, the Swarthmore men’s soccer team has youth in spades.
The departure of nine players from the class of 2012, coupled with the absence of senior Kieran Reichert, leaves the Garnet a young squad faced with an uphill battle as it attempts to return to the top of the Centennial Conference.
“Replacing a class that was as successful and contributed as much as the class of 2012 will be very difficult,” Men’s Soccer Head Coach Eric Wagner said. “We don’t expect to replace them, as they were a unique and special group of student-athletes. Rather, we are moving into a different phase of the program’s history, with new leaders, new stars, a new personality, and, if all goes well, new and exciting success to talk about.”
After winning the conference championship in 2010, the team tied for fifth in the Centennial in 2011 while losing three of its last four conference matchups, including a 2-1 loss to rival Haverford that knocked the Garnet out of playoff contention. Although a 1-0 double overtime victory over Medaille in the ECAC South Region Championship ended the year on a high note, the overall campaign felt like an underachievement for a team ranked as high as number three in the country during the season.
“I think everyone on the team considered it a disappointment,” Midfielder Noah Sterngold ’14 said of last year’s result. “After the season we had in 2010, we had big expectations and seemed on our way to fulfilling them before things fell apart for us a bit. As a team, we have a lot to prove after losing such a talented class and not even making the Centennial playoffs last year.”
This fall, the Garnet will have to find ways to generate offense without its top four scorers from last season: midfielder/forward Fabian Castro ’12 (7 goals, 6 assists, 20 points), forward David Sterngold ’12 (7-2-16), midfielder Micah Rose ’12 (5-3-13), and midfielder Kieran Reichert ’13 (3-5-11). Last year, all four were named All-Centennial Conference with Rose earning first-team honors, Castro and Sterngold placing on the second-team, and Reichert picking up an Honorable Mention. In their place, Midfielder Jack Momeyer ’14 (5-0-10) and Forward Michael Stewart ’15 (4-1-9) will be the primary offensive weapons this season.
On defense, the return of standouts Sterngold, who was named second-team all-conference last year, and Captain John Pontillo ’13 will lessen the impact of four-year Starter Pierre Dyer’s ’12 departure. Cameron French ’14, starter of 12 games last season, and classmate Jake Weiner ’14, who started nine games in 2010, but was limited by injuries in 2011, look to be key contributors to the Garnet’s back line in 2012.
Perhaps the greatest challenge for the team will be replacing goalkeeper and 2011 Conference second-teamer David D’Annunzio ’12, whose 29 career shutouts and 0.61 goals against average (GAA) are both program bests. Peter Maxted ’14 (160 minutes played, 1.69 GAA), and senior Jake Tracy ’12 (80 minutes played, 1.12 GAA) are competing for the starting job.
Including a pair of games, and victories, this past weekend in the Garnet Alumni Classic, with wins over Rutgers-Newark and 2011-NCAA-Tournament-participant Manhattanville, the Garnet has one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the area. On September 19, Swarthmore will play host to Stevens, which was ranked fifth in D3soccer.com’s final poll in 2011 and beat the Garnet 1-0 in last year’s match. Nearly a month later, on October 15, the Garnet face Neumann, ranked twentieth in that same poll, at home.
The conference schedule looks to be similarly daunting. The Garnet, picked to finish tied for sixth in the conference by the Centennial coaches, will face three of the poll’s top four teams, Johns Hopkins (2nd), Muhlenberg (3rd), and Franklin & Marshall (4th), all on the road. After opening its Conference schedule against F&M on September 15, the Garnet will face another early test with a home game against reigning Centennial champion Dickinson a week later.
“The Centennial Conference will be competitive for the majority of the teams and I think the quality is a bit more evenly spread out over the teams than it was when I came in as a freshman,” Sterngold said. “All the Conference games are huge affairs for us and we’re all looking forward to every one of them.”
Momeyer, who assisted on Swarthmore’s first goal against Manhattanville on Sunday, added, “the Conference will be very strong this year. There are no easy match-ups, which is exactly what we want. I want to [win every game], but Dickinson stands out the most to me. Even though they are not our traditional rivals, I think we have played enough scrappy games against them in the past few years that a victory over them would be extra sweet.”
For a recap of Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Rutgers-Newark and Sunday’s 4-1 win over Manhattanville, visit swarthmoreathletics.com.
The Garnet returns to play on Wednesday with non-conference action at Arcadia.