No. 2 Knights remain unbeaten

The Gannon University men’s soccer team, which is No. 2 in Tuesday’s NSCAA rankings, battled last weekend to remain perfect through the first nine games of the season with the help of three consecutive shut-out performances by the goalkeeper Jason Barbarino.

The Knights had a 3-0 win over Millersville University with goals from Robbie Bennett, Sean Pike and Alex Perri Friday. The following day senior forward Adam Sharbaugh scored a critical goal with only 11 minutes remaining against West Chester University to give the Knights a 1-0 victory.

Coach Rob van Rheenen said close victories have made the Knights believe that they are tough to beat when they work together. So far, the team is on an offensive assault, leading the PSAC in scoring with 25 scores in compiling a 9-0 record.

The Knights’ scoring effort has been spread out in the past few games, but Bennett has continued finishing opportunities and leading the team with seven goals and five assists.

Perri and Pike have been successful in manufacturing scoring opportunities and both have been productive scorers this season.

The strong defensive effort also contributed to the win over West Chester that improved the team’s PSAC record to 5-0. Van Rheenen said that after an initial struggle the defensive unit has improved in its communication and understanding of the team’s defensive scheme.

“We have three seniors starting in the back and a transfer student, so we have experience,” van Rheenen said.

The experience and improved communication enabled the defenders, with the help of the goalkeeper, to not allow a goal in the past three contests. Barbarino registered 13 saves this week and earned himself the PSAC Athlete of the Week honors.

Jonathan Simmons, a senior defender, said that the last three games have been encouraging for the defensive unit and noted that all 11 men on the field need to continue to focus on their defense to remain successful.

“I think that experience and depth have been key,” Simmons said. “A lot of us have been in this position before. My sophomore year we were a highly ranked team.”

Simmons said that the Knights believe when they play to their potential that they are capable of winning a conference championship and qualifying for the NCAA’s this season, but he also added that the team is taking it one game at a time.

Gannon will look to continue its winning ways with its next match at Ashland University 7 p.m. Thursday.

The Knights will follow it up with another non-conference match at Urbana University 1 p.m. Saturday.

 

CONNOR SONDEL

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