It’s time to reload for a new sea­son

La Salle, North Penn look to com­pete for league ti­tles again

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By An­drew Robin­son arobin­son@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @ADRobin­son3 on Twit­ter

The 2016 boys’ soc­cer sea­son was one char­ac­ter­ized by stand­out se­niors.

Those play­ers have all grad­u­ated how­ever, and their re­spec­tive teams are now left to find ways to re­place the im­pact they cre­ated on the pitch. Whether it was goals, text­book de­fend­ing, big saves or the nu­mer­ous tack­les, passes and plays that add up in 80 min­utes of play, it’s a lot of fill­ing to do.

That’s the thing about the Re­porter/Times-Herald/Mont­gomery area, no mat­ter how much ta­lent leaves, there al­ways seems to be more ready to step into the void.

La Salle had a stel­lar 2016, win­ning a tre­ble in tak­ing the PCL reg­u­lar sea­son and tour­na­ment ti­tles and Dis­trict 12 4A cham­pi­onship. The Ex­plor­ers did it be­hind a very strong and de­ter­mined se­nior class that in­cluded Spencer Pat­ton (Vir­ginia), Mike D’An­gelo and Zach Ho­gan among oth­ers. The PCL is tough, es­pe­cially with Ro­man Catholic, Fa­ther Judge and Arch­bishop Wood wait­ing, but La Salle coach Tom McCaf­fery has a solid core back in­clud­ing keeper Brett Werner, de­fend­ers Joseph Brigidi and Ni­cholas Ham­mel and for­ward Chris Met­zler.

North Penn had it­self quite a sea­son last year as well, as the Knights won the rugged SOL Con­ti­nen­tal con­fer­ence, placed third in Dis­trict I and ad­vanced to the sec­ond round of the state tour­na­ment, knock­ing out La Salle to do so. Coach Paul Duddy also had a se­nior-heavy lineup

that in­cluded Re­porter Player of the Year Mike Kohler, for­ward Nate Bax­ter, de­fender Noah Kwort­nik and keeper Bobby Dean.

Duddy, who seems to face the yearly task of re­plac­ing a big class of qual­ity se­niors, also has some ex­cel­lent un­der­class­men back, in­clud­ing de­fender/mid­fielder Carter Houli­han, ju­nior winger Ai­den Jerome, se­nior mid­fielder Jack John­ston and ju­nior striker Luke McMa­hon.

The last area team stand­ing in 2016, PIAA Class AA semi­fi­nal­ist Lans­dale Catholic will also have a very new look this fall. Bill James takes over as head coach of a side try­ing to re­place Noah Saba (Wi­dener), Josh Yurastis (Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton), Will Rex and keeper Jack Kane. LC, which al­ways hangs tough in the PCL, re­turns a few starters in­clud­ing ju­nior Kyle Kane, se­nior Matt Edling and ju­nior Matt McDon­ald.

Life at the top of the ta­ble in the SOL Amer­i­can was ten­u­ous in 2016, with Wis­sahickon, Hat­boro-Hor­sham and Up­per Dublin scrap­ping down to the fi­nal match­days of the reg­u­lar sea­son be­fore the Fly­ing Car­di­nals eked out the ti­tle. UD, now un­der the guid­ance of Andy Mee­han, lost eight se­niors among them An­thony Wisdo (Roanoke), Jose Palomeque (PSUAbing­ton) and keeper Ja­son Stone.

Fend­ing off the Hat­ters, who re­turn Danny Bate­man, Danny Har­mon and Nick Hatzen­beller, and the Tro­jans, who re­call the ser­vices of Blake Geisler, Ja­cob Kaf­fey, Jake Co­hen and Ed­die Fortescue, will not be an easy task for UD’s re­turnees like Jerry Bar­dol, Dan Ness and Tom Hiltwine.

For reign­ing Dis­trict I A cham­pion Faith Chris­tian, re­plac­ing 30-goal scorer Kazuya Hi­rano, plus a hand­ful of other im­pact se­niors, is a tall order for coach Ryan Cly­mer.

Arch­bishop Wood comes in off a PCL semi­fi­nal fin­ish and Dis­trict 12 3A ti­tle but does lose high quan­tity scorer Mike Smith and mid­field en­gine RJ Liszewski. Abing­ton re­turns ju­nior Sean Touey, who bagged more than 20 goals in a break­out sopho­more sea­son and se­nior keeper Nick Brown­holtz as the Ghosts try to nav­i­gate a loaded SOL Na­tional. Lower More­land, coming off a run to the PIAA AA quar­ter­fi­nals, like­wise loses a num­ber of se­niors but has im­pact play­ers back like ju­nior Bryce Horn, se­nior Zach Firko and keeper Fred Shub.

DOCK MEN­NON­ITE ACADEMY 2016 Record: 12-5-1(9-4-1BAL) Head Coach: Matt Moyer Play­ers to Watch: Austin Kratz, Lin­coln Bergey, Hay­den Phillips, Jeremy Yoder, Praise Zoe­gar, Braden Lan­dis, Micah Kratz, Ja­cob Shreiner Outlook: “We are re­turn­ing a ma­jor­ity of the start­ing lineup af­ter grad­u­at­ing only three starters. There is healthy com­pe­ti­tion for po­si­tions this year and lots of depth on the bench. GER­MAN­TOWN ACADEMY 2016 Record: 8-11-2 Head Coach: Bren­dan Sul­li­van No­table play­ers lost: Jack­son Stern­berg (goal­keeper, grad­u­ated); Frank Koons (de­fender, grad­u­ated); Bren­dan Has­son (de­fender, play­ing with Union Academy) Key re­turn­ing play­ers: M Mike Ro­man, M/F Ian Lu­gossy, Har­ri­son Combs Other play­ers to watch: D Joey Bat­tisto, M Oliver Buck, D Will Noe, M Mike Capone, M Drew Budin­sky Team outlook: “With seven se­nior starters re­turn­ing, plus sev­eral tal­ented un­der­class­men, we look to chal­lenge for the In­ter-Ac ti­tle. A tough sched­ule of non-league games in Septem­ber will help us pre­pare for the highly com­pet­i­tive In­ter-Ac sched­ule in Oc­to­ber, cul­mi­nat­ing in our an­nual con­test for brag­ging rights with Penn Char­ter in early Novem­ber. We in­tend to ad­vance fur­ther into the PAISAA play­offs as well this year.” LA SALLE 2016Record: 17-2-3(9-0-2PCL) Head Coach: Tom McCaf­frey No­table Losses: Spencer Pat­ton (Vir­ginia), Mike D’An­gelo, Zach Ho­gan Play­ers to Watch: GK Brett Werner, D Ni­co­las Ham­mel, D Joseph Brigidi, F Chris Met­zler, M Max Mochar­nuk, M Dave Stein­bach Outlook: The Ex­plor­ers en­ter af­ter a dream sea­son that saw them win PCL reg­u­lar sea­son and tour­na­ment ti­tles, plus a Dis­trict 12 cham­pi­onship. With the league look­ing loaded again, La Salle will have to reload quickly af­ter grad­u­at­ing a very tal­ented and driven se­nior class. Werner is one of the top keep­ers not only in the league, but the whole area and La Salle re­turns a solid foun­da­tion on de­fense and Met­zler, who showed a knack for scor­ing goals in big mo­ments last year. LANS­DALE CATHOLIC 2016Record: 13-10-1 Head Coach: Bill James No­table Play­ers Lost: Joshua Yur­a­sits (Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton), Noah Saba (Wi­dener), Jack Kane, and Matt Noti Key Re­turn­ers/Play­ers to Watch: Chris Edling, Do­minic Mel­chiorre, Kyle Kane, Matt McDon­ald, and Stephen Esterle Outlook: “We are look­ing to im­prove as a pro­gram and be con­tenders in the PCL. Hop­ing to re­peat as Dis­trict 12 Champs and con­tend for a State Cham­pi­onship.” NORTH PENN 2016Record: 18-5(10-2-0SOL Con­ti­nen­tal) Head Coach: Paul Duddy No­table Play­ers Lost: Mike Kohler, Noah Kwort­nick, Nick Terchek, Nate Bax­ter, Bobby Dean Key Re­turn­ers: Carter Houli­han, Ai­dan Jerome, Luke McMa­hon, Jack John­ston, Matt Mur­phy Other Play­ers to Watch: Rick Bro­phy, Ryan Staab Outlook: The Knights will have sev­eral key holes to plug coming off an SOL Con­ti­nen­tal ti­tle and state play­off ap­pear­ance. Houli­han had an out­stand­ing fresh­man sea­son and can play in the back or mid­field while McMa­hon will look to in­crease his scor­ing out­put at the top of the for­ma­tion. It’s a tough sched­ule again, but this team has shown it can re­tool quickly. PEN­NRIDGE 2016Record: 6-11-1(1-10-1SOL Con­ti­nen­tal) Head coach: Pete Val­imont Play­ers Lost: Kenny Estep, Josh Jar­rett Key Re­turn­ing Play­ers: F Matt Steven­son (Jr), F Marco Grenda (Jr), D Evan Freed (Sr) Oth­ers to Watch: M Jack Taplett (Jr), D Ai­dan Link (Jr), F Se­bas­tian Perkowski (Sr), D Dil­lan Nat­i­tus So Outlook: “Ath­letic group of play­ers of vary­ing ages. Can we come to­gether as a ‘team’ and work to­wards a com­mon goal for 10 weeks? If ev­ery­one ‘does their job’ it will be a great sea­son for all. “Matt Steven­son is go­ing to be in the talks for ‘Player of the Year’. This sum­mer he led his club team to a Re­gional Cham­pi­onship with a tour­na­ment-best six goals and then com­peted in Texas for Nationals.” SOUD­ER­TON 2016Record: 10-8(5-7SOL Con­ti­nen­tal) No­table Losses: Cameron Hart, Nick Mar­culo (Cedarville Univer­sity), Dy­lan Molyneaux (Mis­eri­cor­dia Univer­sity), Luis Orel­lana Key Re­turn­ers: Ethan Bell, Ben Camp­man, Abbel Car­ranza, Tommy Sonn Oth­ers to Watch: Luke Atiyeh, David Hafler, Mitchell Race, Robert Shea Outlook: “The In­di­ans will rely on an ex­pe­ri­enced group of se­niors to lead the team in the ever com­pet­i­tive SOL Con­ti­nen­tal con­fer­ence and push for a place in the Dis­trict I play­offs.” SPRING­FIELD TOWN­SHIP 2016Record: 6-10-2(5-8-1SOL Amer­i­can) Head Coach: Dan Meder Play­ers Lost: Zach Harley, Mike Bonacci, Ben Zim­mer­man Key re­turn­ing play­ers: Trevor McCaf­frey, Ten­zin Lek­shey Outlook: To im­prove upon last sea­son’s record and qual­ify for Dis­trict play­offs. UP­PER DUBLIN 2016Record: 15-3-2(11-1-2SOL Amer­i­can) Head Coach: Andy Mee­han No­table losses: An­thony Wisdo, Jose Palomeque, Jake Chinn, Ja­son Stone Key re­turn­ing play­ers: Kevin Devlin, Jerry Bar­dol, Quinn Mid­dle­ton, Max Adams Other play­ers to watch: Colin Asper, Jor­dan Kahny, John Visher. Outlook: “We are an ex­pe­ri­enced team this year with 15 se­niors on the ros­ter. We have ex­cel­lent lead­er­ship and should be able to com­pete for an­other con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship. Our goal is to build on the suc­cesses of last year and go on a deep play­off run in districts.” UP­PER ME­RION Head coach: Thomas Dodds 2016record: 6-9-3(6-6-2PAC) Play­ers lost: Alan Castillo, Jo­sue Perez, Matt Bai­ley, Mike Kirk. Play­ers to Watch: Ju­nior Trevor Looby, Sopho­more Sam Tepe, GK Dy­lan Castillo Outlook: Looby comes in off a great sum­mer as part of the 2017 EPYSA ODP Na­tional Cham­pi­onship team. The Vik­ings are look­ing at a bit of a re­build­ing year, but plan to re­main com­pet­i­tive and have many played see time on the pitch. WIS­SAHICKON Head coach: Stu­art Mal­colm 2016record: 13-5-2 (10-3-1 SOL Amer­i­can) Play­ers lost: Tom McHale, Joe Ma­iale, Brad Schwartz, Pat McCarry Key Re­turn­ing play­ers: Ja­cob Co­hen, Blake Geisler, Ja­cob Kaf­fey Other play­ers to watch: Ed­die Fortescue, David Gold­stein, Matthew Om, Trey Schwartz Outlook: “With a vet­eran group re­turn­ing, the Tro­jans look to chal­lenge Up­per Dublin and Hat­boroHor­sham for the SOL Amer­i­can ti­tle and have eyes on a long play­off run.”

BOB RAINES — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

North Penn bat­tles Cen­tral Bucks West in a pre­sea­son shoot out at Abing­ton High School Satur­day.

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