Men's Soccer Preview

Release Date:
September 6, 2011
The Office of Sports Information
(716) 649-7900 ext. 333

The Hilbert Hawks Men’s Soccer team has a new look as it begins the 2011 season. Under the reins of first year head coach Jeff Panik, the team will look to build the program into a contender within the AMCC. “It is an exciting time to join the program,” Panik said. “We have a young team, but I feel it is a group that is committed to doing what it takes to be successful.”  Joining Panik along the coaching sidelines are Jacek Cislak and Ryan O'Donnell.

Leading that group will be will be junior captains Scott Cvetkovski and James Knapp, and senior captain Eric Russell. Cvetkovski will be relied on to anchor the back line using his experience to stabilize the defensive unit. 

Knapp will be used to strengthen the outside back position. “James brings us a different look at the outside back. He brings an attacking option out of the back, and teams will have to cope with him coming forward on a regular basis,” Panik said.

Russell, the team's assist leader and a Second Team All-AMCC selection in 2010, will be one of the Hawks’ primary distributors in the midfield again. 

Junior Ed Sarcione, also a 2010 Second Team All-AMCC selection, will be the primary front runner for the Hawks. He will use his strength and pace as the Hawks look to him for scoring opportunities. Sophomore Yonis Osman will bring a creative presence up front, and junior Andy D’Amico is another option to help stretch the defense. “I like that our forwards all have something a bit different to offer. Depending on the game situation, we can change things up for what we need in the moment and for what challenges our opponent presents.”

In the midfield, the Hawks have a combination of experience and creativity. Senior David Walkow will anchor the defensive midfield as a ball winner and distributor. Sophomore Moe Ahmed, juniors Ed Minkel and Greg Zitnik, and freshman David Paige will be relied upon to spark the attack with quick passing and vision to find the attacking option.

“Our midfield is pretty well-balanced as far as the type of personnel we have as options in there,” Panik said. “We will be playing a different style than in the past, but I think once this group gets a better understanding for how we want to play and they develop that chemistry, we will be solid through the middle of the field.” 

In the back, juniors Tom Cheney, Josh Walsh-Steines, Jon Flowers, and Paul Liedkie, and senior Ed Heffron will bring experience to help frustrate opposing attacks. Cheney will pair with Cvetkovski at the center back. The duo have some experience playing together, and will be looked upon for leadership and guidance to keep the defensive unit organized. Walsh-Steines, Flowers, and Heffron will be called on to keep the outsides tight.

The back line also has some young players who will be fighting for the chance to contribute. Sophomores Lucas Maslach, Dabwan Hassan, Justin Fath, and Zach Cattoi, as well as freshman Tyler Coniglio, Matt Saxton, and Daniel Stanton will be able to add different options depending on what is needed in the game. “The defensive unit is definitely where we have the most depth. Some of the younger guys can also contribute in other positions in the midfield as well,” Panik said.

In the goal, playing time will be very competitive. Junior Kamil Cislak, sophomore Jeremy Kraska, and senior Scott Walker will be fighting for time throughout the season.

“It is encouraging to know that we have three guys that we could potentially rely on in the goal. The competition for the spot will help all three of them improve themselves as they fight for the position,” Panik said.

The Hawks open their season with a 7pm game at Keuka (Sept 5) before they host their season-opener Sept. 7 against Wells College at 3pm. Hilbert continues with their home-stand against Grove City, Daemen, Elmira and Buffalo State before they finish their non-conference portion of the 2011 schedule with road games against Morrisville, Thiel and Alfred. Squeezed in-between the Thiel and Alfred games is a home AMCC contest against Pitt-Greensburg, which opens coach Panik’s league game schedule. 

The remaining AMCC home contests, with 2pm starts, are Pitt-Bradford (Oct. 5) and D’Youville (Oct. 11).   The 1pm Saturday games are against the two central PA teams – Mount Aloysius (Oct 8) and Penn State Altoona (Oct. 22). The first round AMCC games will be played October 29, semi-finals on November 2 and the championship on November 5. The AMCC champion receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III championships.

Hilbert College, located in suburban Hamburg, N.Y., south of Buffalo, is a private four-year college founded in 1957 in the Catholic Franciscan tradition. With nearly 1,100 students, Hilbert is a dynamic Western New York college that offers career-focused majors, including one of the top criminal justice programs in the region, and more than 50 minors and concentrations. The college’s engaging, student-centered campus community offers numerous leadership, internship, and service learning opportunities from which students launch successful careers while making positive changes in their communities. The Hilbert Blueprint promotes a well-rounded student experience over four years – starting with the Foundations Seminar in the freshman year, followed by Sophomore Service, Junior Symposium, and culminating with the Senior Capstone. Hilbert has expanded its academic offerings with the college’s first graduate programs and new Accelerated Degree Programs geared to adult learners.