It’s time to reload for a new season
La Salle, North Penn look to compete for league titles again
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.”
North Penn battles Central Bucks West in a preseason shoot out at Abington High School Saturday.