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No experience required: Men’s soccer finds success with young team

The PAC championship looked more like a reality for Eastern’s men’s soccer team after their dominating regular-season-ending win over Wesley College on Oct. 25.

With a roster of 21 players, including no seniors and 11 first-years, head coach Mark Wagner is leading the way to what will hopefully be Eastern’s third PAC title since he started coaching at Eastern in 1998.

“Although still quite young,we have grown tremendously in so many ways the past few months and will be in position to attempt another run at the Conference championship,” Wagner said. “It’s an exciting challenge.”

Starting their season at Widener and all the way up to Wesley, EU’s men’s soccer team stands strong with 13 wins out of 18 games, one ending in a tie. With the conclusion of their regular season, the men’s soccer team finished second in the PAC standings by virtue of record, number of assists, shots and goals scored.

When asked how confident the team feels about their ability and unity this season, first-year Luke McLaughlin said, “We got off to a rocky start, but I do believe we have come together towards the end of the season. Our ability is what we make of it. We should treat this season like it is our last and hopefully come out victorious.”

Even though there are no seniors on the roster this season, Eastern’s men’s soccer team has concluded that the team is what wins the games, not the seniors.

Coach Wagner added that their leadership has come from juniors with an emphasis on the captains, juniors Lance Burris, Cliff Gehret and Aaron Tritch.

Leading the team most boldly this season has been the play of first-year Taylor VanBrackle. Scoring a total of 34 points, including 15 goals and four assists, VanBrackle has exemplified the youthfulness of Eastern’s men’s soccer team.

The men’s soccer team does face a challenge. As McLaughlin said, they will have to take one game at a time, and they are there to defend their championship.

Wagner also said that if they take the title home this year, they have an ultimate berth in the NCAA Tournament.

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