WESTMINSTER, Md. -- Nearly two dozen McDaniel College men's soccer players sat tucked away in the corner of a locker room Monday afternoon before practice.
At the front of the tiny room stood head coach Stephen Corrieri, the former Susquehannock High School boys' coach who is in his first year as a head college coach after serving as an assistant at NCAA Division III York College the last six years.
Addressing his team in the first practice since its first loss of the season on Saturday, Corrieri had a simple message.
"We already changed the perception of the program by winning five games in a row. Now we've tied one and lost one. How are we going to respond to a loss?" Corrieri asked. "We could get right back on the horse and start a new winning streak or we could go back to being the McDaniel of old."
It's the type of meeting that volunteer assistant coach Ben Eveler said hasn't occurred in recent years inside the D-III McDaniel's men's soccer program, which last had a winning season in 2005. Eveler is a Red Lion High School grad who played the last four years at McDaniel.
"I think they're definitely more excited to play now than they were last year," Eveler said. "Right away I think he (Corrieri) has had an impact. And sometimes it just takes a different person, a different philosophy or a different voice to change. This is sort of like the perfect time (for a new coach)."
Indeed, Corrieri has made an immediate impact. The team won its first five games of the season, something Corrieri said the program hasn't done since the 1950s, before tying and losing its next two. It has done so with a roster that features only four seniors and just five returning starters.
Moving from England to the United States in 2000, Corrieri, 36, brings a deep soccer background to McDaniel, which is located in Westminster, Md. In addition to the part-time coaching position at McDaniel, he works part-time for the United States Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program by coaching younger players on club teams based in Philadelphia and York.
During the fall season, he'll make the hour-long drive every day down the back country roads to Westminster from his home in Manchester Township, where he lives with his 3-year-old son, his 6-year-old daughter and his wife, Kayse, a McDaniel grad who teaches at Susquehannock High School.
It was with the Warriors where Corrieri won four consecutive York-Adams League division titles from 2003 to 2006 (three at Division I and the last at Division II) while also grabbing a pair of league tournament championships and an appearance in the PIAA quarterfinals in 2006. Twice he was named the York-Adams Coach of the Year.
He's trying to bring that winning culture to McDaniel, which has had just 31 winning seasons in the program's 88-year history dating back to 1924. Just one Green Terror player was named an All-American in the last 51 years.
"The biggest challenge to me is the mental approach to these guys," Corrieri said. "Only winning six games a season or five games a season (in the past), I just want to make sure they believe in themselves."
And he admits it might take some time to get the program on the same level as perennial power York College, which is ranked No. 23 in D-III in the latest National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll.
"It's going to take a number of years to get there," he said. "But I'm very impatient. I want to be competitive tomorrow."
--Reach John Walk at email@example.com.