Men’s soccer takes aim at PAC with new coach


Sami Mirza

Cliff Weaver, ’25, laces a free kick into Case Western Reserve territory during the second half of their game on Sept. 17 at Robertson Athletic Complex.

The Allegheny men’s soccer team fell 2-0 in their final game before beginning conference play to the Case Western Reserve Spartans on the afternoon of Saturday, Sept. 17. The Gators held the Spartans to a 0-0 draw in the opening half, before a pair of second-half goals lifted the visitors to victory.
“It was a dog fight all around,” said Team Captain Anthony Melograne, ’23, speaking on the field just after the game. “I think we came out strong (in the) first half; second half not so strong, but we’re still looking to build on things.”
In the first half, Allegheny held Case Western Reserve to nine shots, three of which were on goal. In the second half, the Spartans fired off 12 shots, six of which were on goal.
Allegheny’s defensive front was led by goalkeeper Gabe Anthony, ’24, who kept the game scoreless until the 49th minute. Case Western’s first goal came from Sean Atwater, who volleyed a corner kick early in the second half to put the Spartans on the board. 15 minutes later, Case Western’s Lukas Dalakis found the net and sealed the game.
Yet Allegheny kept playing, notching both their shots after Dalakis scored. The lone Gator to shoot on goal was defender Zach Ioli, ’23, who took his chance in the 73rd minute.
Team Captain Shane Lisman, ’23, said his team played better than the numbers would imply.
“We got into a couple good positions,” Lisman said. “We’re just working on that finishing touch; the last pass, last touch to get to goal.”
He added that the team still put together a strong showing on the pitch.
“I think it was the best team performance we’ve put together this year,” Lisman said. “While we didn’t get the results, heads are high looking into conference play.”
Interim Head Coach John Lichina, ’14, echoed Lisman’s sentiments, citing a developing team identity as key to good performance on the field.
“I think when the guys have that attitude with them that, ‘We’re going to really go put our stamp on it,’ we tend to perform a little bit better because we’re focused on us,” Lichina said. “We’re focused on what we want to do going forward. We’re focused on how we want to approach the game and how energetic we can be in terms of playing 90 minutes”
The 1-4-1 Gators began play in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference Tuesday, Sept. 20 at Bethany College, where they tied the Bison 2-2.
Lichina said that the NCAC and PAC are fundamentally different leagues, with their own character.
“I don’t want to say ‘easier’ at all, because it’s still a game we have to go out and play,” Lichina said. “I don’t know if we’ll see as many world-beater-talented players as we’re used to seeing in the former conference and as we saw in the nonconference schedule.”
The key to success, Lichina said, lies in the Gators playing their own game and not merely responding to the specifics of their opponents.
Part of this team identity is the grass field that men’s soccer uses to host most of their games. This season is just the second the field is in commission.
“It’s growing in pretty well and it feels like a home turf now,” said forward Tighe Raymond, ’23. “We’re glad that people come out to watch our game just specifically for soccer. We’re very ‘happy that we have our own field and we get to play on it for ourselves.”
The team still uses the larger Frank B. Fuhrer Field for night games — the grass field lacks the necessary stadium lights — but Lichina noted that while 250 fans might seem insignificant in the stands of the stadium, they can change the feel of the grass field.
“When you get that same amount of people lining the sideline, it’s a totally different atmosphere,” Lichina said. “People are very much engaged in the game and the guys have taken a genuine liking to it.”
Lichina took the head coaching position in June, replacing longtime Head Coach Angelo Panzetta. Panzetta, who led the men’s soccer program for more than 21 years and took them to the 2004 NCAA Division III tournament, is now Allegheny’s director of athletic equipment and facilities.
Lichinia himself is an Allegheny graduate, earning all-conference honors four years straight as the Gators’ goalkeeper between 2010 and 2013.
“I didn’t major in soccer tactics and minor in coaching philosophy, but I do think that being a critical thinker on the field is something I gained out of being an athlete and a student here,” Lichinia said.
Back on the pitch, Melograne said that his team is stepping back into the PAC with their heads held high.
“It’s all composure,” Melograne said. “We’re here to play soccer, that’s it. We’re looking to combine passes, play a simple game and play for each other.
The Gators will return to their home turf on Saturday, Sept. 24, when they host Westminster College at noon.