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Seneca Valley grad DeAugustino strengthens Grove City soccer's defense

| Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Good luck trying to score a goal on the Grove City College men's soccer team.

That was especially true through 90 minutes.

The Wolverines boasted one of the top defenses in NCAA Division III and ranked 33rd with a 0.72 goals-against-average in 19 matches.

George DeAugustino, a Seneca Valley product, was a key part of Grove City's stingy backline.

The junior moved from outside back to one of the two central spots in the team's flat-back four formation.

“It's a great thing to be a part of,” DeAugustino said. “It's not just me. We have great keepers and the rest of the defense is strong. I learned a lot from the guys who were here previously, too. It's definitely a team effort. It takes all 11 guys on the field to post the numbers we do.”

The coaches in the Presidents' Athletic Conference took notice of the position change and named DeAugustino to the All-PAC Second Team.

“It's a nice honor. I'd like to thank everyone who gave me that honor,” he said. “It's not what it's about, though. It's about the team. I owe everything to all the guys and my coaches.”

A foot injury kept DeAugustino out of the Wolverines' first seven matches — he had started all 38 games in the previous two years. His return strengthened Grove City's defense as the team went 5-2-5 and had five shutouts and a 0.61 GAA with him back in the lineup.

The Wolverines had a 0.92 GAA without him on the field.

“It was tough being out for so long,” DeAugustino said. “I got to see the game from a different perspective for the first time in my college career, though. It was unfortunate. But one of the core values of the team is to be positive. I decided to be positive and took the injury as a learning experience and tried to learn and see the game from a different angle.”

Grove City head coach Mike Dreves was happy to get DeAugustino off the sideline and back in the lineup.

“When we moved him centrally, everyone needed a little time to adjust. Then, he had the injury early in the year and missed time. When he got back, he re-established himself,” Dreves said. “He is a great athlete. He showed great leadership and did a great job organizing in the back. He'll be the first to credit our defense for any of his success, but he's a pretty special player.”

Grove City (8-5-6) finished with seven shutouts. But that's common for DeAugustino. In 50 career matches, he has helped the Wolverines post 19 clean sheets.

“We take pride in that as a team. Our goal every game is to go out and get a shutout,” he said. “We're always looking to put a zero on the board.”

Strong defensive play was even more important this year for the Wolverines. They participated in 11 overtime matches, which tied the NCAA all-divisions record.

“The margin of error is very small. We have to play basically mistake-free. It's very difficult. But when you do it as a team and you have a common goal of not letting teams score, it makes it easier,” DeAugustino said. “As long as we possess the ball, they can't score. Our coaches do a great job of preparing us for games with scouting reports.”

Grove City, which allowed only four goals in eight PAC matches, closed the season with a 5-0-4 run. The Wolverines battled Washington & Jefferson to a scoreless tie through regulation and two overtime periods in the PAC tournament semifinals. However, the Presidents advanced to the championship with a 4-3 triumph in a penalty-kick shootout.

“We're trying to get past that semifinal. We've been there the last three years,” DeAugustino said. “We'll do anything we can do to get to that final and have a shot at winning a PAC championship.”

An additional year could help Grove City's young offense, which led the PAC in shots taken (360), but cashed in just 27 of them. Regardless, DeAugustino knows the defense must be even tougher next fall.

“There's always room for improvement. It was good that we were mentally tough enough, if we needed that extra time,” he said. “We were mentally tough enough as a team to get there and try to use that extra time to get a goal. We'd like to get it done before overtime, though.”

Joe Sager is a freelance writer.

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