Men’s Soccer Hosts Manor Saturday In Season Opener

Penn State Brandywine men's soccer
Penn State Brandywine men's soccer

MEDIA, Pa. -- The Penn State Brandywine men's soccer team begins its 2018 season on Saturday afternoon when the Lions play host to Manor College at 1:00 pm. Here is a look ahead at the 2018 season:

Brandywine returns 11 players who helped the Lions claim last season's PSUAC title as the team rolled through the conference with an undefeated record for the second-straight year. Once again, Brandywine appears loaded with talent, having four of its six all-conference selections back in the fold, including senior defender James Cellucci, a two-time USCAA All-American, and sophomore midfielder Rajbir Lohat, who landed all-American honors as a rookie. Brandywine's top returning scorer is senior Brandon Crochunis, who enjoyed a breakout season in 2017, producing career highs with 13 goals and 34 total points. Sophomore Mohamed Camara also aided the offense, tallying 12 goals, while earning an all-conference nod. Brandon Welden looks to take over the goalkeeping duties after splitting time in net as a freshman.

Jesse Zafiratos returns for his third season in 2018 after winning conference championships during his first two seasons in charge of the Lions. He owns a 31-8-1 record, including a perfect 22-0 mark against PSUAC teams. Zafiratos recruited an 11-man freshman class, many of whom are expected to make immediate contributions on the field.

In addition to a 10-game PSUAC schedule, Brandywine will play one of the league's toughest non-conference slates. The Lions play six matches against NCAA Division III opponents, highlighted by games versus former PSUAC foes Penn State Altoona and Penn State Abington. The matchup with Altoona will be the teams' first since 2004, while Abington will provide a stiff test for the Lions after reaching the NCAA Tournament last season.

The Lions will play 10 conference matches for the first time after Penn State Lehigh Valley added a varsity soccer program for 2018. Brandywine has dominated its conference competition over the last five seasons, producing a 53-2-1 record during the last five seasons, while winning four of the last five championships. The Lions have not suffered a PSUAC loss since Sept. 19, 2015, going 30-0-1 since that date. Last season, Brandywine won each of its 11 matchups by at least two goals.

Brandywine plays seven of its first nine games away from home, including back-to-back games in western Pennsylvania against Penn State Beaver and Penn State Greater Allegheny, two of the top teams in the PSUAC, to end a six-game road trip. Brandywine plays its next six games at home before ending the regular season with three games on the road.

For the first time this season, the USCAA has split its soccer championships into two divisions, one for scholarship-granting programs and one for programs without athletic aid, helping to even the playing field for all teams. This year's PSUAC championship game will once again be at University Park on Oct. 30, while the USCAA Tournament runs from Nov. 8-11.