Men’s Soccer Trio, Reading United Win PDL Eastern Conference Title, Fall Short Of National Championship
Austin Maloney, Pierre Reedy, and Aaron Molloy will arrive at head men’s soccer coach Jeff Cook’s preseason camp this month with a historic, 17-match season of competitive summer soccer under their belts.
The midfield trio spent the past three months training and competing with Reading United A.C. of the Premier Developmental League (PDL) — North American Soccer’s development-focused third division situated below Major League Soccer (MLS) and the United Soccer League (USL).
Reading’s season ended Saturday with a 4-2 home loss — its first and only defeat of the season — to the Calgary Foothills in the league’s national championship match. United clinched the Eastern Conference title two weeks earlier with a 2-1 win against the New York Red Bulls under-23 squad.
The PDL features 74 teams based throughout the United States and Canada, and allows competitive collegiate players to train and develop during the off-season. This year’s Reading squad featured a stylistically eclectic mix of players from countries around the world, including Eritrea, Brazil, France and Jamaica among others.
“We gel together,” said Molloy. “The cultures are obviously different, but we all have one thing in common, and that’s getting better at soccer. So we all become really good friends.”
The Penn Staters competed alongside players from the University of Akron, Villanova University, and Lehigh University.
“I think Reading does a really good job of recruiting some of the best guys in college soccer to come to Alvernia and play over the summer,” Reedy said over the phone before the team’s first playoff match. “Just being surrounded by them helps me to be better.”
The junior midfielder missed last season’s Big Ten action due to injury, and left the field injured in extra time Saturday.
Reedy recorded one assist and six shots in 241 minutes of play this season for Reading. Maloney notched two appearances and a total of 72 minutes. Incoming freshman striker Jeremy Rafanello also played a half for Reading in the final match of the regular season, and registered three shots.
Molloy — Reading’s brightest rising star — captained the team this season. The Dublin, Ireland native recorded five goals and four assists in 1,457 minutes of play, made the all-PDL end-of-season team, and was named the league’s top prospect.
“I’m absolutely honored to be number one top prospect,” Molloy said. “I think my main focus is really just on the team, how we play, how we perform.”
The players’ attention now turns to Happy Valley, where the Nittany Lions will kick off the regular season against the University of Central Florida on August 24.
This season will be Cook’s first as head coach. Molloy and senior center-back Dani Marks will serve as captains.
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The close game certainly made things exciting, which is more than you can say about the first two games, but nothing seemed “fun” about watching each team try to let the other win.
Football has its flaws, but it also has the innate ability to bring people together for 12 Saturdays a year.
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