The Gettysburg men’s soccer team made the playoffs for the first time in the career of Patrick Santini ’18 and first time since 2010. Santini led the conference with 20 goals — including two hat-tricks during the season.
Santini was named a First Team All-American by the United Soccer Coaches and a Second Team All-American by D3soccer.com. His season snagged USC First-Team All-Region honors, Centennial Conference Player of the Year, and a spot on the All-Centennial Conference First Team.
I had the opportunity to speak with Santini and uncover more about his All-American season — and his role during the team’s run for a spot in the conference playoffs.
Andy Milone: Do you feel as if this past season was different for you in any way from your three previous seasons before this?
Patrick Santini: Yes. I definitely do. I think this year definitely put more pressure on me because I thought that I was going to be the primary goal scorer coming into the season — and once the season started, I realized that this was going to be the case. I think at some points in the season we were having trouble scoring — getting some other players involved, so I knew that I was going to need to score in some games. This was definitely different from past seasons because with my sophomore and junior year, there was another guy, who could score 5 to 10 goals [during the season]. There was definitely more pressure this year, but I enjoyed it.
AM: With this additional pressure, did this change your play in any way? Did this change your style at all?
PS: I don’ think it really changed my style. I have always been a shoot first type of player, and I think that I really did that this year. The only aspect of my play really changing was the position [on the field]. I played the #10 position, the center attacking mid, last year, so I was more of the play maker — and I created a little bit more for people. This year, it was a little more about creating more for myself.
AM: How do you prepare for an upcoming season over the summer?
PS: A lot of stuff goes into it. For me, it started as soon as my junior season ended, and then, I began preparing for my senior season: running, lifting, getting out early in the morning with Coach [Zach] Ward, just getting reps, shooting and knowing where I am in the box. It’s especially the running aspect. I ran many times early in the morning — making sure that I was capable of playing [a full game of] 90 minutes.
AM: This extra fitness over the summer — how does it help you during the season?
PS: That was huge. I kind of attribute it to why I had the season that I had because fortunately for me, I was able to play almost every minute of every game, and I wasn’t affected by injuries. That was why I did all [the summer running]. I didn’t want to come out during a crucial point in the game because I was cramping. I knew all this going into the summer, and after the season ended my junior year, I knew that I was going to want to play every minute of every game in potentially my last season of competitive soccer ever, so I prepared for all this.
AM: You were a captain this past season. Was the pressure or burden any bigger — changing your play in any way?
PS: When you’re a captain, I think there is a little bit more pressure, but it didn’t change who I was. I acted the same, but there are situations where being a captain versus not being one, you have to act differently. If you’re not a captain and something happens, you might not say anything. There are definitely situations where as a captain, you need to either discipline someone or talk to them about something — and there were definitely some instances this season where I had to do that. But I embraced it; I definitely enjoyed having the leadership role.
AM: Did you have a favorite game this season?
PS: My favorite game had to be against Haverford. I believe that they were ranked 23rd in the country, and they were the defending Centennial Conference champions — and we had never beaten them during the three years that I had been here. We had some really good matches, but this was the game where I scored four goals, and we won 4-1. That was pretty surreal.
AM: During the previous three seasons, the team had not made the playoffs, and this season, the team did. What do you think the main difference was?
PS: I felt like this team just wanted it more. I don’t think we necessarily had more talent. Coach [Mark] Mettrick‘s recruiting classes are going to keep getting better and better. But I just felt like we wanted it this year, and we showed up in the big games: Dickinson, Haverford — and unfortunately, we couldn’t get results against Franklin & Marshall or Johns Hopkins, but I think the turning point from the three prior seasons into this season was us beating Haverford and Dickinson — and we ended up being the #3 seed going into the [conference] playoffs. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get it done.