The men’s soccer team will head into the season ranked No. 10 in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference’s Preseason Coaches Poll.
Shippensburg University finished the year with that seed, closing out the season with seven wins and nine losses. The Raiders will have to battle this season without some key players, whose contributions last season made a tremendous impact. SU will carry on without forward Robert Furfaro, who led the team in scoring last season with seven goals and two assists. Furfaro was named an Academic All-District II player, so the Raiders will need to look to some new players for offensive contributions. SU also lost captains Derek Adams and Brooke Moyer to eligibility.
This is a young squad, with only a handful of upperclassmen on the roster. Five freshmen will join the team this year, who are looking to make an impact and to push SU higher up in the rankings. Fresh faces can at times revitalize a team, and with so much youth in the group, the Raiders will try to take strides into becoming a tight-knit group with a true identity.
“Them [freshmen] coming in and showing they’re committed not only made us feel better but challenged us to show that they’re not going to come here and be freshmen, they’re going to be players,” senior Collin McConnell told SU sports information.
The new recruits coming in can look to lean on McConnell, as well as seniors Evan Raimist and Colten Arnold to be a presence on the pitch with their veteran leadership.
“There’s definitely a huge sense of family with this group,” Coach Jeremy Spering told SU sports information. “There are definitely some positives moving forward [for example], the work rate and the coachability of the group. They’ve been very eager to take on board any type of feedback.”
Last year’s team did not achieve the record that it had hoped for, but it was a competitive squad. Coach Spering’s teams have historically played very tight games, with eight of the nine losses in 2015 being one-goal games. That trend dates back to 2013, with 20 of the previous 21 losses being by a one-goal deficit. Capitalizing on a few more chances in the upcoming season could turn the ship around for the Raiders and get them back on course.
In his ninth season as the head coach of SU’s men’s soccer team, coach Spering will look to guide his team into a PSAC playoff position, something the Raiders have not been able to achieve since 2013. Coach Spering’s 2010 team took the PSAC championship, but they have only managed to return to the PSAC playoffs one season since.
Shippensburg will kick off the season September 1 at home against Shepherd University. A strong start to the season could be just what SU needs to give the young group confidence going forward.