Times Leader Boys Soccer 2nd Team All-Stars

Ed Lukowski, freshman, midfield, Nanticoke

WVC coaches name boys all-star selections
Times Leader

Division III First Team
Nanticoke: Ed Lukowski, midfielder; Wiston Godoy, midfielder; Adam Lutz, defender Carmelo Pioquinto, keeper
Division III Second Team
Nanticoke: Andrew Blank, defender; Mike Mihneski, midfielder; Rees Roberts, forward; Tyler Robaczewski, forward

Like father, like son

The rebuilding of the Nanticoke Area soccer program from the ashes began with a father and his son.
Head coach Mark Matusek needed a new assistant for the 2012 season. His longtime second-in-command, Ryan Amos, had been the girls soccer coach in addition to his duties with the boys program. But when the PIAA moved girls soccer from the spring to the fall, Amos elected to stay with the girls program, creating an opening on Matusek's staff.
Matusek immediately sought out Ed Lukowski, an area club team coach and teacher at Nanticoke Area whose son, Ed, was entering his freshman year at Nanticoke.
The elder Lukowski played for Matusek from 1993-96 and is still the school's all-time leader with 163 points.
"I went over to him and said: 'I need an assistant coach,'" Matusek recalled. "He said, 'yea,' and that was it. He didn't take too long to answer."
The Trojans' revival, with father and son on board, was immediate. They went from 0-16 last year to 10-5 this season, while the young Lukowski tallied 17 goals and 10 assists as a midfielder.
"You can see the impact by the turnaround from 0 wins to 10 wins," Matusek said. "Other players have factored into it, but Ed has been the biggest factor."
"When Ed the father gives instructions, everybody listens. His knowledge of the game, they know they can gain a lot from that."
The elder Lukowski had his son on the road to varsity standout from an early age. He purchased the son his first soccer ball as an infant. When the son learned to walk, he would attempt to kick the ball, more often than not just nudging the ball forward an inch or two.
When the son grew up and began playing youth soccer, the father would take the son to Westside Park in Nanticoke. There, he would run his son through an assortment of agility drills.
At the time, the son did not quite understand what his father was doing. But the father was doing what came naturally to him: coaching his son.
And he has continued to mentor his son throughout the years as the coach of numerous club and travel teams.
"There is a fine line treating him as another player and as a son," the father said. "On the field, I know he doesn't like the way I coach. We always have conflict when he's on the field because I see things that he doesn't, and he is reading the game differently than I am. Sometimes, we butt heads during the game, but after the game, we see things eye to eye because he always sees it my way then."
The son has gotten used to the father's coaching style, although disagreements are inevitable.
"It's pretty much a love-hate thing," the son said. "He definitely pushes me harder, corrects the things I don't do right and tries to help me get better."
The son immediately established himself as one of the WVC's young stars, breaking the Trojans' freshman record for goals scored. On the practice field, the father does not play favorites. The son has to carry the Gatorade coolers out to the practice field, just like any other freshman.
"He doesn't treat him any differently than any of the other players," Matusek said. "But the son really looks up to him. He is very coachable. He wants to keep improving, and he has goals. He wants to be the best player he can become."
If his freshman season is any indication, the son might one day eclipse his father in the school's record book. The son is 119 points shy of the father's points record with three years to go.
"If it happens, I'd be fine with it. Hopefully, later than sooner," the father joked. "No, I'd like to see him break it. I'm not holding it that close. Hopefully, he does because that would mean he has been successful and healthy."
Added the son: "I do care, but I don't. It's more about playing for the team and doing my best to win."
The father smiles. He knows his son wants to break his record but is too modest to admit it. They have three more years together and plenty of things still to accomplish. The father and son are only getting started.

Nanticoke knocks off Grenadiers
The Times Leader

Nanticoke scored two second-half goals to break open a tie and down GAR 5-3 on Thursday in a Wyoming Valley Conference boys soccer match.
Ed Lukowski collected a hat trick, including Nanticoke's final goal, and assisted on Mike Mihneski's score.
Edwin Sosa scored and passed out an assist for GAR.
GAR 3 0 - 3
Nanticoke 3 2 - 5
First half: 1. NAN Mike Mihneski (Ed Lukowski); 2. NAN Lukowski (Andrew Blank); 3. NAN Lukowski (Mihneski); 4. GAR Edwin Sosa (Bre Mosier); 5. GAR Luke Height; 6. GAR Katie Oldziejewski (Sosa)
Second half: 1. NAN Rees Roberts (Tyler Roboczewski); 2. NAN Lukowski
Shots: GAR 24, NAN 21; Saves: GAR 14 (Tony Tlatenchi), NAN 13 (Carmelo Pioquinto); Corners: GAR 3, NAN 5.

Nanticoke's late goal seals win vs. Meyers
The Times Leader

Ben Sersen snapped a tie with 16 minutes left in the match, giving Nanticoke a 3-2 win on the road over Meyers on Wednesday in a WVC boys soccer match.
Mike Mihneski set up Sersen for the game-winner and also scored in the first half for the Trojans.
Joel Tlatenchi and Keith Ostrowski found the back of the goal for the Mohawks.
Nanticoke 2 1 - 3
Meyers 2 0 - 2
First half: 1. NAN Tyler Robaczewski (Ed Lukowski), 6th minute; 2. MEY Joel Tlatenchi (Nick Sisko), 9th; 3. NAN Mike Mihneski (Wiston Godoy), 28th; 4. MEY Keith Ostrowski 33rd. Second half: 5. NAN Ben Sersen (Mihneski) 64th
Shots : NAN 10, MEY 12; Saves: NAN 8 (Carmelo Pioquinto), MEY 7 (Adam Casey); Corners: NAN 5, MEY 4.

Lukowski rescues Trojans
Citizens Voice

At Nanticoke Area, Ed Lukowski scored the game winning goal with six minutes remaining in the second half off a pass from Tyler Robaczewski, lifting Nanticoke to a 5-4 victory over Berwick on Friday.
Lukowski also had an assist, while Wiston Godoy led the Trojans with two goals and two assists.
Anthony Ramos and Richard Umana each had two goals for Berwick. Umana also picked up two assists.

FIRST HALF: Anthony Ramos (B) from Richard Umana, 38:03; Wiston Godoy (N) from Ed Lukowski, 21:58; Umana (B) un, 14:47; Mike Mihneski (N) from Godoy, 2:46; Rees Roberts (N) from Godoy, :40. SECOND HALF: Umana (B) from Josh Moran, 38:36; Anthony Ramos (B) from Umana, 11:45; Godoy (N) pk, 9:06; Ed Lukowski (N) from Tyler Robaczewski, 6:18.
Shots: Nan 14, Ber 15; Corners: Nan 4, Ber 2; Saves Nan 6 (Carmelo Pioquinto), Ber 9 (Erikson Vasquez).

Trojans battle back to beat Bulldogs
Dave Rosengrant - Times Leader

When Nanticoke gave up early goals in 2011, the team would likely be finished for the rest of the match.
What a difference a year makes.
The Trojans gave up an early score in each half against Berwick on Friday afternoon, but rebounded from both goals to pull out a dramatic 5-4 victory in a Wyoming Valley Conference match between the top two teams in Division III. The teams have split the season series with the Bulldogs winning 1-0 last month.
"We played them really well in the beginning of the year and I think we surprised them and these kids wanted another shot at them," Nanticoke coach Mark Matusek said. "The kids really made us proud today."
Nanticoke, which struggled in 2011 finishing winless in 16 matches, improved to 7-4 this season and pulled within one game in the standings behind the Bulldogs, who fell to 8-3-1. In league matches, Berwick faces Division II Meyers and fellow Division III foes MMI and Hanover Area. Winning all three of those secures the Bulldogs a division title.
Nanticoke must hope Berwick drops one of those matches and has to win its final four matches or net three wins and a tie against GAR, MMI, Meyers and Pittston Area to force a tie.
On Friday, Berwick - which played its third game of the week - opened a quick 1-0 lead as Anthony Ramos found the back of the net off a pass from Richard Umana just 1:57 into the match.
"I don't think they were tired," Berwick coach Janet Henger said. "I think they were ready for them. They were sore because they played overtime on Wednesday night and that's big because it was a night game and grades come first."
But Nanticoke didn't give up after that and outplayed the Bulldogs for most of the first half finally registering a tally when Wiston Godoy evened the match at 1-1 knocking in a backwards header with 21:58 left off an assist from Ed Lukowski. Godoy was just getting started.
After Berwick went ahead 2-1 with 14:57 left on an Umana unassisted tally, Godoy gave a pass to Mike Mihneski, who tied the score at 2-2 with 2:46 left in the first.
That score might have been good enough to go into halftime with a tie for some squads, but the Trojans weren't done as Godoy dished out another assist just before the half to Rees Roberts to put Nanticoke ahead 3-2.
"They got us early but our guys responded well," Matusek noted. "And we kept the pressure on them. We've been behind before and came back and they seem to respond well in those situations."
Berwick tied the match back up at the beginning of the second half, again less than two minutes in as Umana scored 1:24 into the second for a 3-3 score. The Bulldogs regained the lead with 11:45 remaining as Umana passed to Ramos for a 4-3 lead. That seemed to secure the game for Berwick.
"He's really quick and secures the ball really good," Matusek said about Umana, who leads the entire WVC with 25 goals. "He took good shots and was a problem the whole game."
But again, Nanticoke wasn't giving up. Matusek moved Lukowski up front and Mihneski inside to generate some offense and it paid off.
A foul called inside the box gave Godoy a penalty kick with 9:04 left. And Godoy nailed it to even the score at 4-4. Less than three minutes later, Lukowski, a freshman, secured the victory hitting a blast from about 30 yards away that was just out of the reach of Berwick keeper Erickson Vasquez, who leaped and had a few fingers on it, but it was placed perfectly by Lukowski.
Nanticoke 5, Berwick 4
Berwick 2 2 - 4
Nanticoke 3 2 - 5
First half: 1. BER, Anthony Ramos (Richard Umana) 38:03; 2. NAN, Wiston Godoy (Ed Lukowski) 21:58; 3. BER, Umana 14:57; 4. NAN, Mike Mihneski (Godoy) 2:46; 5. NAN, Rees Roberts (Godoy) :40
Second half: 1. BER, Umana (Josh Moran) 38:36; 2. BER, Ramos (Umana) 11:45; 3. NAN, Godoy (penalty kick) 9:06; 4. NAN, Lukowski 6:18
Shots: BER 14, NAN 21; Saves: BER 10 (Erickson Vasquez), NAN 5 (Carmelo Pioquinto); Corners: BER 2, NAN 5.

Terrific turnaround for Trojans
Nanticoke runs its unbeaten streak to 4 a year removed from a winless campaign.

Dave Rosengrant - Times Leader

Last year, Nanticoke’s boys soccer team was the laughing stock of the Wyoming Valley Conference finishing 0-16 and being outscored by nearly 100 goals.
What a difference a year makes.
This year, the Trojans are completely different, playing stellar defense and becoming a contender in Division III. The team’s improvements were evident Saturday morning in a 4-0 win over up-and-coming Wyoming Area for its fourth straight win to improve to 4-1 on the season.
“It’s a combination of a lot of things … and they’re tired of losing,” said Nanticoke coach Mark Matusek, who led his team to a division title in 2008 with 13 wins, but won a total of just seven matches the next three seasons.
Some of the big reasons for the Trojans turnaround this season were on display against the Warriors (2-5). Freshman Eddie Lukowski, who is becoming a top player in the division, scored twice just four minutes apart in the first half for a quick 2-0 lead 13 minutes into the game.
Lukowski’s father, Ed, who is Nanticoke’s all-time leading scorer, joined Matusek’s coaching staff since girls soccer moved to the fall. Former assistant Ryan Amos is the girls coach.
Then there’s the defense, which netted its second shutout of the season and only allowed more than two goals in a match once so far.
Freshman keeper Carmelo Pioquinto has been a bright spot all season and made 11 saves against the Warriors. Senior defender Andrew Blank has been marking opponents’ key players all season and doing a stellar job, while fellow senior defender Adam Lutz has been a key defender. Senior forward Tyler Robaczewski, who missed last season due to health reasons, has also been helping the team on both sides of the ball and junior forward Mike Mihneski added a goal in the first half against Wyoming Area for a 3-0 lead.
He found the back of the net again four minutes into the second half to cap the scoring.
“The freshmen players have come in contributing right off the bat and the older players have worked to get better,” Matusek said. “There isn’t one player on this team that doesn’t want to learn and get better.”
The Warriors meanwhile are in a similar situation as the Trojans, with many players returning from last year’s squad that finished 6-10. After an off first half, they got their game working in the second half, outshooting Nanticoke during the contest 15-12 but it was a little too late. Wyoming Area’s aggressive defense was stingy, but Lukowski managed to work a pair of run-throughs to exploit the unit.

Nanticoke 4, Wyoming Area 0
Nanticoke 3 1 — 4
Wyoming Area 0 0 — 0
First half: 1. NAN, Eddie Lukowski 31:55; 2. NAN, Lukowski 27:54; 3. NAN, Mike Mihneski
Second half: 1. NAN, Mihneski 35:54
Shots: NAN 12, WA 15; Saves: NAN 11 (Carmelo Pioquinto), WA 2 (Aaron Carter); Corners: NAN 4, WA 2.

Young Trojans discover their winning touch

The winds of change for Nanticoke Area began blowing soon after the 2011 season, an 0-16 campaign that left it as the only winless team in the WVC.
A group of about 15 Trojans attended winter practices at the Wyoming Valley Sports Dome. They played nearby travel teams, winning some games and losing others. Little by little, they developed chemistry, which carried over into the frequent summer pick-up games.
That winless group of a year ago, which had no seniors on its roster, grew up. They saw the field better. Passing to the open man became routine. They bore little resemblance to that ragtag 2011 bunch, some of whom were playing their first season of competitive soccer.
The Trojans were not about to endure another winless season.
Through Friday, Nanticoke Area is 3-2 (3-1 in Division III) and it has its sights set on a division title.
"The biggest factor has been the freshmen," said coach Mark Matusek, who has coached the team since 1989.
Leading that crew is center midfielder Ed Lukowski, whose father (also named Ed) is a first-year assistant coach and the school's all-time points leader. Lukowski has played since he was four and is the fancy-footwork playmaker that the Trojans lacked last year. Freshman goalie Carmelo Pioquinto has added stability in the net.
Lukowski, who leads the team with five goals, cited those offseason training sessions as the impetus to the team's turnaround.
"It helped the younger and older guys to get more comfortable playing together," Lukowski said." "We've been playing some good teams, and we know that we can play with some of the best."
The Trojans' newfound cohesiveness showed in the team's season-opener against Berwick, a team expected to contended for a Division title. They ultimately lost, 2-1, but that performance put the rest of the division on notice.
"We recently played Berwick, and it just seemed like there wasn't much effort from them because last year, they shut us out," senior defenseman Andrew Blank said. "We went at them hard, and it ended up being 2-1, and we want to go beat them next time around."
The Berwick loss did wonders for team morale but still moved its losing streak to 20 games dating back to 2010.
In the Trojans' next game, they defeated Wyoming Area, 1-0, as Dave Stecco scored with 22:00 left in the second half off a feed from Lukowski.
"It was fantastic," Lukowski said. "It was just... you can't explain how good it was. It was rainy, slippery and rough, and we just played our hearts out that game. We just gave our all to get that first win."
It was a triumphant moment for a program that fell on hard times. One year after hitting rock bottom, the Trojans are contenders
"They are basically tired of losing, and they don't want to do it anymore," Matusek said. "They want to win, and they know what it takes. It's hard work, and they are improving as a team."

Boys Soccer Preview
Citizens Voice

Nanticoke Area
Class: AA (243)
Last Year: 0-16

Coach: Mark Matusek
Top Players: Seniors: Andrew Blank, def; Adam Lutz, def. Sophomores: Whiston Godoy, mid. Freshman: Ed Lukowski, mid.
Matusek's outlook:"We have a lot of young players who are coming in with some pretty decent skills. We haven't had that in a while."