Change at the top led to success for Malvern Prep soccer

When Andrew Kummerer was announced as the new head coach of the Malvern Prep soccer team, he had no previous knowledge about the program.

For those invested in the program bringing an individual into the circle can either be an advantage or cause dissension. With the help of his senior captains – David Bettenhausen, Mike Narzikul and Chris Savino – Kummerer was able to approach his first pre-season with a plan in mind.

“It meant a lot,” said Kummerer, referring to having the support of his senior captains. “I am very fortunate not just to have one great leader but three great leaders. Most teams are fortunate to have just one but like I said I have three guys that were tremendous leaders that brought everything from skill, intelligence, hard work and passion and it’s going to be a huge hole to fill but to have those guys to help me with my transition was a big deal and a huge help for me.”

Kummerer added, “It seemed like this team needed direction and guidance in becoming a team. They needed someone to kind of lead that charge and point them in the right direction and I think as a coaching staff we did that giving them something to believe in based on their struggles the past couple of years. Based on my conversation with the captains prior to the season they told what they wanted and early on it was clear they wanted to wipe away the past and create a new future.”

Unsure what to expect when the season began the new direction the Friars wanted to take took shape immediately with an 8-0 start before falling to Inter-Ac foe Penn Charter with perennial power Haverford School on the horizon.

Facing its first test of adversity, Malvern passed with flying colors knocking off the defending champion Fords for a win that would eventually propel them on their way to its best finish in the Inter-Ac since winning the title in the fall of 2011 and advancing all the way to the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association final.

“Coach Andrew gave me a season I will never forget,” Narzikul said following the PAISAA final. “From the first day we met he brought a winning culture. I couldn’t have expected anything better.”

“The seniors were huge,” said Pina. “They showed me what I needed to do as a captain. They were always positive and pumped everyone up. They led us on and off the field and showed us the way. Hopefully I can continue to do that next year.”

On Saturday night at the Proving Grounds, Malvern Prep (15-6-2) played Haverford tough like the first two times but one unfortunate bounce would prove to the difference in a 1-0 defeat.

“The last time we won the Inter-Ac my brother Matt was the captain,” said the younger Narzikul. “I remember watching and saying I wanted to do that my senior year. Even though we did not capture that goal this team showed commitment all season long and it was something I will never forget.”

Another key ingredient proved to be junior defender Cullen Pina who missed all of last season due to injury. With his return solidifying the back line, it allowed for Narzikul and Bettenhausen to provide the offense.

“I knew I had to get healthy,” said Pina. “It was tough watching the team fight without me last year and seeing we were down one or two players I knew I had to be there for my team.”

With a new mindset left behind from the seniors, the Friars who undoubtedly will be led by Pina are hungry to continue what they started this year.

“Having Cullen back next year will be huge,” said Kummerer. “We named him captain in the middle of this year for a reason. He accepted the responsibility and understood what he needs to do. Fortunately he had three great mentors to show him the way and sometimes he showed them the way.”

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