Correction: A previous version of the article misspelled Mitch Hildebrandt’s name. One of the two pictures in the article also incorrectly stated that it was Hildebrandt in the picture and it has now been removed.
After getting off to its best start in years at 4-0, the App State men’s soccer team finished with a record of 8-6-3, its first winning season in almost 10 years.
Sophomore defender Zeiko Harris and freshman forward Camden Holbrook were named to All-Sun Belt teams. Holbrook earned national player of the week after the first week of his college career.
The Mountaineers now look to use the offseason to take the program to new heights.
Not only has the team worked in the weight room and practiced against each other, but it has also gotten the chance to face off against opponents to measure their progress.
“The guys have really been getting after it since January,” head coach Jason O’Keefe said. “The spring is always going to be very important for us.”
So far, the team has faced High Point University and Greenville Triumph, a first-year pro team of the USL League One.
The team has over 18 returning players and has seven new ones, who will offer more depth and diversity to the team.
App State is also welcoming two new coaches to the staff, Matty Evans and Mitch Hildebrandt.
“(I look for) a working knowledge and experience at a high level,” O’Keefe said. “Matty and Mitch are both home runs in all of those departments.”
Evans brings in quality experience as a coach and a player. He played over 3,000 minutes as a goalie at Seton Hill University and coached at West Chester University and Lander University.
He also played a season for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds U23, a former member of the USL League Two.
“I can see the direction this program is taking and I’m excited to be a part of it,” Evans said. “Every single player has bought in, and they bring 100 percent in every training session and it just creates a great environment.”
Hildebrandt, also a goalkeeper, had a successful year at Oakland University before beginning his professional career.
He played a season with Major League Soccer Cup winner Atlanta United before retiring from professional soccer.
“I think the experiences throughout the road I’ve taken to be a professional, I hope, I can help these guys if they want to play soccer or anything else in life,” Hildebrandt said. “When Jason offered the chance to come and help the program, it was obviously a no-brainer.”
The Mountaineers will play several exhibition matches before the spring season ends.