New Kensington soccer coach preparing for run at the title next year
Jordan Valentine gets early jump on recruiting
After his inaugural collegiate coaching season concluded with a loss in the opening round of the conference playoffs, Penn State New Kensington’s men’s soccer coach Jordan Valentine already was setting his sights on next year with the goal of winning the championship.
The New Kensington Lions, who earned a sixth seed in the Penn State University Athletic Conference championship, fell to third seed Penn State Brandywine, 8-0. It was the fourth consecutive playoff appearance for the four-year intercollegiate program that reached the finals in 2011. Valentine not only expects to return to the tournament next season, but he expects to reach the championship game and take home the elusive PSUAC trophy.
“We will stay hungry and want to better ourselves next season,” said Valentine, a native of Preston, England. “The PSUAC championship will be the goal as always, and I believe we are not too far away. With a couple new additions, we can be a very dangerous team.”
Valentine will have more time to build the program as he enters the off-season. He was hired in March and didn’t get a chance to implement a full recruiting schedule. The Alle-Kiski Valley is fertile recruiting ground for soccer, and high schools such as Burrell, Kiski Area, Valley and Springdale have strong, competitive programs. Valentine is starting locally and planning to extend the prospective player base. With a solid nucleus returning, Valentine can pursue talent instead of just numbers to fill out the roster.
“We are starting to make breakthroughs with some exciting players who have performed very well at the high school level,” said Valentine, who was selected for the Great Britain National University soccer team in 2008. “Interest is coming from as close as local high schools in the area to as far as Puerto Rico and England.”
On the year, the New Kensington Lions finished with a 5-6 PSUAC record and a 6-8 overall mark. Valentine's squad featured an explosive offense that scored 35 goals, an average of 2.7 goals per game. The team was ranked third in goals in the PSUAC and ranked 20th nationally in scoring average in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association.
Two players --- Michael Killian (first-team) and Casey Cavanaugh (second-team) were named to the all-conference teams. Killian, a sophomore forward from Highlands High School, scored a team-leading 16 goals, third best in the PSUAC, and had a team-best 11 assists, tops in the PSUAC. His 43 total points (two points per goal and one point per assist) was third best in the conference. Nationally, he was ranked number 12 in goals, 8 in assists and 11 in points. In addition to all-conference team recognition, Killian was named PSUAC Newcomer of the Year. Cavanaugh, a sophomore center back from Burrell, was named to the all-conference team for the second consecutive year.
Valentine earned a bachelor’s degree in Sports Management from Ohio Valley University in West Virginia after graduating from Preston College, a high school in his hometown. At Ohio Valley, he was a four-year starter as a midfielder and twice was named to the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference All-Conference team.
A resident of Pittsburgh, Valentine brings a wealth of coaching experience to the position. He holds English Football Association Level 1 and Level 2 coaching license. Prior to joining the New Kensington athletics staff, Valentine was head coach and international trials and combine manager at the Midwest Soccer Academy in Fenton, Michigan. He was responsible for the development of more than 100 players on nine teams.
For more about campus athletics, visit http://www.psnkathletics.com/landing/index
(Jacob Baird, a senior communications major and intern in the Alumni and Public Relations office, conducted the interviews and contributed to the story.)