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In two quick seasons since Jeff Panik took over the program, the Hawks have turned the corner and are now considered a team contending for the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference championship in November. With 10 solid, committed returning players to the 2013 season, Panik (2012 AMCC Coach of the Year) and his staff are excited to blend the 14 new faces on the field into a consistent challenger for the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament each year.
Five seniors will lead the Hawks in their final season. Michael Gee, an AMCC 3rd Team All-Conference member in his first year with the Hawks in 2012, will anchor the defense again. As the team’s on-field captain, Gee will continue to protect the box and Jeremy Kraska in goal. Working up the pitch and carrying the ball forward will be Josh Walsh-Steines in the midfield. His effort will allow Edward Minkel and Yonis Osman to roam in front of the goal looking for the perfect pass which will lead to many scores.
In their third year with the program, Tyler Coniglio and Matthew Saxton have had a hand in the transformation of the Hawks defense. Coniglio held his ground and played disciplined defense while Saxton carried the ball forward and placed it in the back of the net a few times last season. Expected to challenge for playing time are rookies Anthony Pellicano, Nicolas Rodriguez, Brandon Ciesielski, Kurtis Maloney, and Jamestown Community College transfer, Nathan Decker.
The midfield will see the greatest change within the team. Sophomore Austin Mathis returns and will battle with first-year Hilbert players to run the offense. Matt Hamister, a sophomore transfer, along with freshmen Daniel Pulaski, Tyler Eister and Tomas Bojkovski will solidify the Hawks play and give them a punch on both sides of the midfield line.
The Hawk fans are excited to see what kind of offensive damage Jon Davison will do to opponents again this year. The AMCC 2nd Team All-Conference member will provide leadership and effort, pushing Hilbert’s rookies to play at a quicker pace. Stepping on the field for the first time looking to score goals will be sophomore Matthew Buehlmann who joined the program in 2012 as a keeper, but never dressed due to a wrist injury. He will work with other newcomers to the Hilbert program - Justin Gilfert, Dyllon Hrynczak, Matthew Barth, and Blake Barker - to complement Davison, Minkel and Osman upfront.
In net, freshman Brandon Henry is expected to challenge Kraska for time.
Hilbert opens the season at SUNYIT August 31 and will host Grove City September 7th in their home opener (1pm). The Hawks other non-conference opponents are Alfred (away, Sep. 10), Morrisville (home, Sep. 14), Thiel (away, Sep 19), Alfred State (home, Sep 21) and Wells (home, Sep. 25). They begin their AMCC schedule the last weekend of September and squeeze in the nine league games before the AMCC play-offs begin November 2nd.
The Hawks five seniors will be honored in pre-game activities during their Senior Game against Penn State Altoona on October 19th at 1pm.
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