In the first year as a provisional member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III and the first year as a member of the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC), the Penn State Abington men’s soccer team has seen success after a slow start. The Nittany Lions started their season off 2-3, with their three losses coming against Swarthmore College, Penn College and Neumann University. After their loss against Neumann University on Sept. 23, the Nittany Lions found themselves on a nine game winning streak.
During the winning streak sophomore Elsion Pajollari was selected as the NEAC student athlete of the week for the week of Oct. 25. Pajollari started the week by scoring two goals in a 4-0 win over Penn State Harrisburg. He followed that performance up with two late goals against Morrisville State in a 4-3 come-from-behind victory. The sophomore finished the week with his best game, three goals to lead his Penn State Abington Nittany Lions over SUNY Cobleskill in a 3-2 win. Penn State Abington was able to remain undefeated against NEAC opponents until their final game of the regular season when visiting Keuka College beat the Nittany Lions by a score of 2-0. Although Keuka put a halt to the Lions' winning streak, Keuka wasn't able to knock them off the top, as the Nittany Lions clinched the No. 1 seed for the NEAC Championships.
"In just our first season of NEAC play, our men's soccer team took the conference by storm. The team played hard all the way through to the final minutes of each game," said Karen Weaver, athletic director at Penn State Abington.
During postseason play in the NEAC Championships, Penn State Abington defeated Penn State Harrisburg in the quarterfinals by a score of 4-2. Although Abington lost in the NEAC semi-finals to the University of Dallas, they were still able to get a No. 2 seed in the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) South Division III Men’s Soccer Championships. There, the Nittany Lions played against Wesley College and lost 0-4.
Honors, accolades and accomplishments certainly didn’t stop in the ECAC South Division III Men’s Soccer Championships. The NEAC named seven Nittany Lions' men's soccer players to regular season All-Conference honors. Penn State Abington forward Pajollari was selected as Player of the Year. Pajollari had 23 goals and three assists for a total of 49 points as he led his team to a 12-6 record. In addition, Pajollari was atop the selection for First Team All-Conference along with sophomore mid-fielder Sebastian Hernandez and junior defender Liam Hopkins. The Second Team All-Conference honors went to senior defender David Pearce and first-year goalkeeper Daniel Carmack. First-year forward Alix Edwards and junior mid-fielder Anthony Root were selected to the Third Team All-Conference.
The Eastern ECAC also selected Penn State Abington’s Pajollari to their First Team All-Stars. He helped lead his team to a a No. 1 seed in the NEAC Championships as well as a No. 2 seed in the ECAC Division III South Championships.
Congratulations to Penn State Abington men's soccer team for a season well-played.