With seven starters graduated, Patriots looking to freshmen to contribute this season

By Tom Robinson - For Sunday Dispatch
Wyoming Area’s Justin Alder, right, heads the ball as Pittston Area goalkeeper Kyle Mlodzienski and Dominic Stella move in for the ball in a game last season. Mlodzienksi is one of a few returning players this season. - Sunday Dispatch file photos
Pittston Area’s Preston Cain, right, battles Wyoming Area’s Mike Remley for control of the ball during a game last season. Cain is one if a few returning players this season. - Sunday Dispatch file photos

Pittston Area’s boys soccer roster is growing, but the graduation of seven seniors, all of them starters, could make things difficult on the Patriots as they prepare to open the season.

Four-year starter Kyle Mlodzienski, who made more than 200 saves a year ago, returns in goal. Junior midfielders Brian Rowan and David Butler are third-year starters. Sophomore Josh Gostinucci returns on defense.

James Bell performed double-duty as a coach last season, also taking over the junior high program midway through the season, but he thinks that could prove beneficial this season with a large number of freshmen likely to break into the lineup.

“They’re kind of familiar with our style,” Bell said of a group of 6-7 freshmen likely to see playing time. “ … There’s quite a few that came in who can play.”

Defender Nick Lombardo, forward Adam Musto and midfielders Matthew Guzinski and Kevin Talaban appear ready to start when the Patriots open the Wyoming Valley Conference Division 1 season Friday at home against Dallas, which went 13-1 a year ago.

Seniors Preston Cain, an outside midfielder, and Brandon Overman, a defender, are likely to move into the lineup. It was Overman who hit the game-winner in the penalty kick shootout to combine with Mlodzienski’s 42-save effort in a district playoff upset of Coughlin a year ago.

Junior Jake Black has experience on defense and at midfield.

The Patriots have a roster of 28 players.

“That’s a big jump from the last few years,” Bell said. “As a group, we’re really young, so it’s going to take a little bit.”

Pittston Area went 2-11-1 last year to tie for eighth among eight teams in Division 1

Wyoming Area’s Justin Alder, right, heads the ball as Pittston Area goalkeeper Kyle Mlodzienski and Dominic Stella move in for the ball in a game last season. Mlodzienksi is one of a few returning players this season.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_Soccer2.CMYK_-1.jpgWyoming Area’s Justin Alder, right, heads the ball as Pittston Area goalkeeper Kyle Mlodzienski and Dominic Stella move in for the ball in a game last season. Mlodzienksi is one of a few returning players this season. Sunday Dispatch file photos

Pittston Area’s Preston Cain, right, battles Wyoming Area’s Mike Remley for control of the ball during a game last season. Cain is one if a few returning players this season.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_Soccer5.CMYK_-1.jpgPittston Area’s Preston Cain, right, battles Wyoming Area’s Mike Remley for control of the ball during a game last season. Cain is one if a few returning players this season. Sunday Dispatch file photos

By Tom Robinson

For Sunday Dispatch

Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or email sd@psdispatch.com

Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or email sd@psdispatch.com