By: John Knebels
Photos/Videos: Alexandra Conroy (Episcopal Academy), Kathy Leister, Katelyn Roman, Liam Turnbach (La Salle HS) & Sal Tommassello
PHILADELPHIA – Archbishop Wood has done everything impeccably well so far against Catholic League foes. Through five games, the Vikings are 5-0 and have outscored their overwhelmed competition by 26-0.
But here’s the catch. The collective record of those five squads is 4-27-1, and the only “quality” victory in terms of tradition was a 4-0 victory over Archbishop Ryan last Wednesday. So the standings suggest that while the Vikings are a juggernaut, they need to defeat an upper echelon contender to be considered a legitimate threat to eventually dethroning two-time defending champion La Salle.
This week, the Vikings will have their chance.
On Tuesday afternoon, Wood travels to La Salle to take on the 5-0 Explorers. Three days later, it’s onto Roman Catholic to meet the 5-0 Cahillites. Nothing like significant competition to test one’s mettle.
“La Salle and Roman might be the two biggest games of the year for us in the regular season, and every single one of us is going to have to come ready to play,” said Wood senior goalie Connor Ford. “They were the only two teams we lost to in the league last year, so we will be looking for a little bit of revenge, but we have to be prepared to meet the challenge.”
Wood junior Ryan Morgan concurred.
“La Salle and Roman are two teams that always give us a good game,” said Morgan. “If we keep playing like we have been, I think we can get the job done and come out on top. La Salle is the reigning champs and it would be awesome to get a win against them. Roman is also a very fun matchup because I have played with or against many of the kids on the team. It is always competitive and we have to come ready to play.”
According to Wood senior Joe Trodden, the next two games should take on a playoff atmosphere.
“These games will be a battle and I expect both teams to come out hungry for a win,” said Trodden. “These games are critical for playoff seeding.”
The boring but effective “one game at a time” approach signifies balance, but the flat-out truth is that some battles mean more than others.
#12 Archbishop Wood senior Joe Trodden - PSD Photo by Kathy Leister
#2 Archbishop Wood Senior Koty Taylor - PSD Photo by Kathy Leister
For defenders such as Trodden, seniors Joe Baranoski and Sean Kerchak, and junior Matt Murphy, the speed of play figures to amplify.
“La Salle and Roman are always good teams,” said Wood senior Koty Taylor. “We are preparing and we know we have the chance to make a statement. We have been looking forward to these games all season and I think as a team we are ready to compete.”
Roman Catholic is 5-0 with a goal differential of 18 to 2. The Cahillites are coming off wins over Cardinal O’Hara (3-0) and Bonner-Prendergast (3-1).
Against O’Hara, Eric Williams scored all three goals. Versus B-P, Kevin Davis (also two assists), Joe Lodise, and Danny Hogan found the net.
“In this league, you have to get up for and play hard every game,” said Roman senior Jared Dillon. “If a team has your number every year or sees something that they can exploit during a regular-season match, that could come back and really hurt you in the playoffs. So if you want to make a deep run, you better be ready to play hard every match.”
Dillon was asked if it difficult maintaining a balanced enthusiasm and not looking past the regular season as the Cahillites chomp at the notion of returning to the final for a fifth straight season and accomplishing their singular objective of bringing home a plaque for the first time since 2015.
“For me it isn’t,” said Dillon, “because I want to play every minute of every match.”
In La Salle’s 7-0 victory over O’Hara on Friday, junior Jake Crawford scored twice.
“The first half we were a little stiff coming out, but we found the right gear and brought it full throttle second half,” said Crawford. “We’re coming together and playing as a team as we prepare for Wood on Tuesday.”
Father Judge snared two wins in successive days, defeating Devon Prep, 6-2, and then Conwell-Egan, 2-0. The Crusaders (4-0-2) join La Salle, Roman Catholic, and Archbishop Wood among the land of the undefeated.
“We’ve been working tirelessly at practice,” said Judge junior Tim Purcell, who, along with senior Owen Ovecka, scored in both victories. “The defense is super strong and our offense is really starting to bury our chances. Every guy on the team is making an impact when they get on the field. The chemistry and environment on and off the field has been great. It’s real exciting to be a part of. We know we have some big games coming up and we’re looking forward to making a statement.”
Roman vs. O'Hara - 79 Photos by Alexandra Conroy
Roman vs. Bonner-Prendie - Photos by Katelyn Roman
Father Judge vs. Conwell-Egan - Photos by Sal Tommassello
St. Joseph’s Prep (3-1-1) dispatched 2-2-1 Archbishop Carroll, 2-0, on goals by Evan Filak and Nekko Ward and improved to 3-1-1.
“It was massive to get all three points in a game where we didn't play our best, because all of these points matter at the end of the season,” said Filak, a senior. “We didn't pass quickly enough and were just overall sloppy throughout the game. The field was very small so it was difficult to find space. But the win was huge because that doesn't always happen when you don't play well.”
St. Joseph's Prep Soccer - PSD Photo by Aaron Mitchell
Prep senior Aidan Hartey appreciated the stinginess of SJP’s defense.
“Just being aggressive and realizing that most balls served in the box should be mine to clear or possess,” said Hartey. “It was a great win for our team as we look to win three games this week to put us in a good spot.”
Lansdale Catholic’s offense took command and never let up in a 5-2 win over visiting Bishop McDevitt in an early season “senior appreciation night.” LC junior Sean Cole scored two goals – both in the second half – for the first time.
“I’ve played defense my whole life and I would not consider myself a goal scorer, so it was exciting to get two in a game,” said Cole. “Our coach told us to get more aggressive and get in behind their back line so I tried my best to do so.
“Both goals started with great balls played in from Dan McFadden and a punt from our goalie, Zach Shepardson. Without them it wouldn’t have happened. They both played great balls that made it easy for me to put it in the back of the net. It was very exciting to do that on senior night as a way to play for them, because they are the leaders of our team so we all played for them.”
(John Knebels can be reached at Jknebels@gmail.com.)
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