Dec. 16, 2016Cregan Finds Perfect Fit at Pitt
PITTSBURGH - Sometimes things don't go as planned, but for junior defender Bryce Cregan of the Pitt men's soccer team, that may have been just what he needed.
Cregan, a native of Dallastown, Pa., spent his first two years of college playing for the University of Akron.
"I initially chose Akron because of their playing style," Cregan said. "They were a possession-based team that brought in soccer players and not just big athletes."
He appeared in 16 games as a freshman, starting 12, while the team finished 13-6-2 overall and fell in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. A year later, Cregan played in just three games as the Zips fell to eventual College Cup Champion Stanford in the Final Four. At the conclusion of the 2015 season, he felt it was time to look somewhere else.
"When I started looking at other schools, I knew of Coach Vidovich from when he was at Wake Forest," Cregan said. "I knew his playing style and that he was trying to bring that here to Pitt. I felt it was the perfect fit to stay within that style and to play for one of the best coaches out there."
Cregan felt a mix of emotions once in the process of leaving a place he thought he would spend his collegiate career, but he said once he talked to first-year head coach Jay Vidovich, everything became pretty easy.
While the opportunity to play for Vidovich would seemingly be enough, Cregan boasts about the other amenities at the university that he was pleasantly surprised with.
"Pitt is one of the top schools in the country, no matter what you get in to," the education major said. "If soccer doesn't work out, you're still getting a degree from Pitt which is great. I was also impressed with the facilities we have here, especially the turf field at the Petersen Sports Complex. It's probably one of the best in the country."
Another major factor in his decision was the opportunity to play in the Atlantic Coast Conference, a conference that has had at least one team in the NCAA College Cup for 16 straight seasons.
"Ultimately, playing in the ACC, the top conference in college soccer speaks for itself," Cregan said. "You're playing against the best day in and day out."
After settling in and making his decision to come to Pitt, Cregan immediately stepped in to a leadership role, becoming a co-captain and bought-in on the coaching staffs plans.
"It means a lot that Coach Vidovich thinks I'm good enough to play for him and thinks that I'm capable of holding the high standard that he has and to keep that going throughout the team. He's someone you don't want to let down," Cregan said.
With the guidance of his coaches, Cregan has almost become their student, learning about each player and the best ways to communicate with them. He says they are constantly giving him helpful advice on how to get better and convey messages to the team on and off the field.
Cregan is humbled to be part of the building process that Vidovich and his staff are putting in place.
"They are trying to build all around great human beings," Cregan said. "They know what every player needs and will do their best to take care of you and that meant everything to me when I transferred here."
With one season as a Panther under his belt, Cregan sees the culture changing within his teammates.
"You can tell each and every day that the mentality is there and people are coming to work," Cregan said. "You either buy in or it's not going to turn out well for you, and I think people are starting to get that. It's going well now and it's only going to get better. I think we can definitely turn some heads next year."
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