By: John Knebels
Photos/Videos: Kathy Leister, Aaron Mitchell, Liam Turnbach & Angelise Stuhl
As fun as it might be to watch entertaining non-league soccer, it significantly pales in comparison when the “real” games begin.
A historic event highlighted Wednesday’s Catholic League openers. Brand new to the landscape after being a key member of the Bicentennial League, Devon Preparatory School stunned its new adversaries when the Tide blanked Archbishop Ryan, 2-0.
“It was definitely fun winning our first PCL game,” said Devon Prep senior Nick Bello. “We didn’t know what to expect. We knew this league would be a challenge, and we were happy to be able to walk away with the win.”
Junior Alex Hardie became the answer to a trivia question when he banged home Devon’s first-ever Catholic League goal seven minutes into the first half. Midway through the second half, Bello doubled the lead. Senior goalie Luke Grycewicz and a staunch defense made it stand up.
Devon Prep senior Alex Furtek played for Carroll until his sophomore year.
“I had an idea of what to expect,” said Furtek. “It was so awesome winning our first PCL game for Devon. The energy we gained from that win is really going to push us through the season.
“It’s been fun anticipating to play the league games. We are aware that the PCL isn’t going to be easy, but the team is willing to come together and give it our best shot to show that we belong.
“I think that our first win against Ryan really helped show that we can hang with the bigger schools.”
According to Devon Prep coach Brian McKinney, the Tide players won’t suddenly become overconfident despite defeating a juggernaut like Ryan.
“It was an awesome experience for the boys to get that first win and show that we can compete in such a prestigious league," said McKinney.
“They are a close group, and they played hard for each other the entire game. We have a long way to go, but these kids will surely have success and make our school proud."
Archbishop Ryan regained its composure two days later by overwhelming Bishop McDevitt, 5-0.
Sophomore Sidiki Fofana chose a great time to contribute his first varsity goals, scoring the first two of the contest while also adding two assists. Senior Ryan Hartigan finished the scoring.
“I went into the game thinking of only to win the game, and so did my teammates,” said Fofana. “When I scored those goals, it felt great at that point.
“The win was very important to us. We learned an important lesson in the loss to Devon Prep to never take any team lightly. The Catholic League is unpredictable and there’s no room to be cocky at any time. When we lost to Devon, we decided we are going to use that loss as a motivation.”
Ryan senior Chris Rola agreed.
“It was definitely an important win for us,” he said. “It was good to get our first win out of the way so they can keep on coming. To win the game in that way was also a plus, too. Our mindset was right coming into the game, because it was definitely important to bounce back from our first defeat in the league. The team played really well and all we have to do now is to continue our form for games to come.”
Although the score doesn’t support the thin margin, defending champion La Salle dominated in its 1-0 victory over Bonner-Prendergast.
Senior Chris Metzler broke a scoreless tie 10 minutes into the second half when he took a pass from senior Liam Loftus on the left side of the 18-yard line and fired a one-timer into the far side of the cage.
Senior goalie Owen Ranck notched the shutout.
“They had one solid chance near the end of the game, but our defense didn’t allow much else,” said Metzler, who joins Cole Hammel and Dave Steinbach as La Salle’s only returning starters.
The Explorers won another close one on Friday, edging Lansdale Catholic, 2-1, on two second-half goals. Steinbach redirected a free kick by Hammel from near midfield; Steinbach scored again on a penalty kick for what proved to be the game winner. Aforementioned Matt McDonald scored late for the Crusaders.
Fresh off a thoroughly frustrating loss in last year’s Catholic League championship, Roman Catholic scored early and often in its 7-1 triumph over Bishop McDevitt.
Five different scorers paced the Cahillites, including two each by senior Jared Dillon and junior Gil Newton.
“Obviously we are happy with any positive result, especially to open the PCL,” said Roman Catholic coach Ray DeStephanis. “We wanted to build off our two wins in Wildwood (the weekend before), and for the most part I’m happy with the victory.
“We were able to realize a few things we’ve been working on offensively and we were able to get everyone involved. Credit McDevitt, though. They’re a very young team with a lot of fight in them.”
Roman Catholic senior Jared Dillon scored two goals in the Cahillites victory vs. Conwell-Egan - PSD file photo
Roman senior Kieran Boyle took the victory in stride.
“To grab a win on the first game of the season was a good way to start off,” said Boyle. “We just have to go one game at a time and play with intensity and as a team.”
Archbishop Wood has outscored its two foes by 13-0, and six of those goals were scored by the same player.
After collecting three goals in a 6-0 Wednesday win over Conwell-Egan, senior Koty Taylor tallied yet another hat trick in a 7-0 victory over Cardinal O’Hara two days later.
“We knew coming into this season that we need to take every game seriously, and that's exactly what we did,” said Taylor. “We started off slow in the beginning, but once we found our rhythm we all began to play as a team. It was a good team win for us.”
The Vikings again struggled to find their offense against O’Hara, but when they did, they produced an avalanche, scoring six of their seven goals in the second half.
“We all knew something needed to change,” said Taylor. “We played more as a team and possessed the ball more.”
In addition to Taylor, senior Bob Hennessey scored two goals while sophomore Ricky Eisele and junior Ryan Morgan added one apiece.
“We connected a lot of passes and had great combination in the offensive third,” said Morgan. “We did not put away a lot of the chances we had. During the second half, that changed and we finished our chances.”
Archbishop Carroll and Lansdale Catholic battled to a 1-1 tie on Wednesday. Sophomore Sean Bruce gave Carroll a 1-0 lead late in the first half; LC senior Matt McDonald tied the game halfway though the second.
“It was a hard-fought game,” said Carroll senior Jimmy Rolley. “The heat definitely had an impact on both teams.”
Carroll senior Nick Frederick also cited oppressive heat. He wasn’t pleased with the end result.
“It was definitely a game we went into with the mentality we needed to grab three points,” he said. “We were disappointed to walk away with only a point after a game we felt we were the stronger squad.”
That said, when in overtime, it’s anyone’s game.
“Both teams had several chances to finish it,” said Carroll senior Mike Hall. “The keepers were on their toes and it ended in a draw.”
St. Joseph’s Prep squeaked past Cardinal O’Hara, 1-0, on a first-half goal by senior Charlie Falcone and a shutout by senior goalie Aiden Hartey.
“It was a huge confidence booster to our entire team,” said Falcone. “They were a tough, talented team and we knew it was not going to be an easy game. We hope to carry the momentum from the big win into our game Friday (at Temple University) against Roman Catholic.
“Playing at Temple is extremely exciting for our team as we are very close to our high school and attract a large student section to our games at Temple."
TBD due to weather.
Roman Catholic vs. St. Joseph’s Prep (at Temple University), 7:00
Archbishop Wood at Bonner-Prendergast, 3:45
Archbishop Ryan at Archbishop Carroll, 3:30
La Salle at Conwell-Egan, 3:45
Devon Prep at Bishop McDevitt, 3:45
Tag(s): Home Schools Philadelphia Catholic Soccer Boys Soccer Philadelphia Catholic League Arch. Carroll Boys Soccer Arch. Ryan Boys Soccer Arch. Wood Boys Soccer Bishop McDevitt Boys Soccer Bonner & Prendie Boys Soccer Cardinal O'Hara Boys Soccer Conwell-Egan Boys Soccer Father Judge Soccer La Salle Soccer Lansdale Cath. Boys Soccer Neumann/Goretti Boys Socce Roman Catholic Soccer Saint Joseph's Prep Soccer