By: John Knebels
PHILADELPHIA - Six teams are crammed at the top, and six more are crammed toward the bottom.
Welcome to the 44-percent mark of Philadelphia Catholic League soccer.
La Salle remained undefeated at 5-0 and increased its three-year winning Catholic League winning streak to 17. Three of the Explorers’ wins have come at the expense of Archbishop Ryan, Roman Catholic, and Archbishop Wood. That rugged trio owns an 11-3 collective record.
“I think our season has gone great so far because of the chemistry our team has,” said La Salle senior defender Jake Yuskevich. “We returned a majority of our team from last season, so we know how each other likes to play. We have a lot of depth this year, allowing us to roll fresh legs in and keep our foot on the gas.
“We’re all committed to the same goal of winning a state championship, and a lot of the guys on the team have played in a state championship for club, so we know what it takes to get there.”
Senior forward Conor Clair, who scored a game-winner with five minutes left in regulation to defeat Archbishop Ryan, 3-2, agrees.
“As a team our main focus is one game at a time and just focusing on the problem at task,” said Clair. “I feel that we do a good job of using that outside talk from other teams and leagues as fuel to continue on. Embracing the negativity and using it to our advantage has been something our program at La Salle has shown throughout the years.”
Father Judge raised its record to 4-1 with a 7-1 victory over Bonner-Prendergast. Junior Mike McCusker (assist) and freshman Mike Regan (assist) both scored two goals while sophomore Kevin Castro (two assists), senior Hugh Nungesser, and sophomore Mike Browning added one apiece. Senior Bobbie Mulvenna and junior Jimmy Shelton split halves in goal.
Next up is Roman Catholic, 7 PM Tuesday at Archbishop Ryan.
“We started out slow the first half which was 3-1,” said Judge coach John Dunlop. ‘We have been playing a little inconsistent at times with our ball control but getting better with more games under our belt. We are little banged up, so we relied on our bench today. They did a great job not only today, but this whole week with wins over Archbishop Carroll (4-1) and our non-league game against Penn Charter (4-2).”
Roman Catholic blanked Lansdale Catholic, 2-0, in a rare Sunday affair necessitated by poor field conditions on Friday. Junior Nick Lachawiec and senior JJ Carr supplied the offense. Junior goalie Donato Incollingo engineered his eighth shutout for the Cahillites, who are one of three teams sporting a 4-1 record.
The PCL’s other 4-1 teams are St. Joseph’s Prep and Archbishop Wood. The two squads met on September 24, with the Vikings prevailing, 2-0, the first goals allowed by the Prep in five league games.
Wood has received particularly solid play from senior midfielder Brandon Kehan, sophomore striker Enzo Petruzzelli, sophomore goalie Julian Naumenko, senior defender Dom Petruzzelli, and senior defender Louie Daniele.
The Vikings’ victory helped ease the disappointment of losing 4-0 to La Salle three days earlier.
“I think losing makes us want to work harder,” said Wood coach Hugh Kelly.
Archbishop Ryan junior goalie Joey Phillips has posted three straight shutouts, the last one a 3-0 whitewash of Conwell-Egan that raised the Raiders’ record to 3-1.
“It’s important to have a strong foundation with the back four and a goalkeeper that trusts each other,” said Phillips. “Our communication has to be precise, and being a quick thinker and committing your body to every tackle is key.”
Ryan defenders Mike Kropilak, senior Jimmy McDonnell, sophomore Owen Stock, and junior Jared Lalli earned praise from Ryan coach Ryan Haney.
“Our defense has been working very well the last three games,” said Kropilak, a senior. “After not having a shutout through our first few games, it motivated us to get better and work together as a back line.”
Devon Prep sits at 1-4, which ties Lansdale Catholic and Bonner-Prendergast for eighth place.
But don’t feel sorry for the Tide.
“We have had a rough start to the season so far and although our results haven’t showed it, we have been improving each and every game as a team and individually,” said Devon Prep coach Siafa Dempster. “Our upperclassmen such as Chris Walton, Tommy Finnegan, and Jack Ferry have really stepped it up a lot. They give their all each and every game and the freshmen and sophomores follow their lead. This will lead to an amazing end of the season.”
Lansdale Catholic coach Casey Farrell is looking forward to starting a healthy lineup on a consistent basis some point soon.
"We’ve just been battling one injury after another to key players,” said Farrell. “Within the first two weeks of the season, we saw two our four captains (seniors Alex Kulp and Jack Edling) miss games due to injury as well as our starting centerback (Shane Rodowicz), who has been out since the second game of the season with a badly sprained ankle.
“The captains have returned to play for the most part recently, but losing Shane for the last two-plus weeks has really been difficult to overcome. He’s in many ways the heart of this team, and we’ll be very glad to have him back next week. We look forward to being at full strength for the back half of this season so we can really see what this team is capable of.”
Farrell complimented LC’s other two senior captains.
“Eric Fernandez has been doing his best at the offensive end to keep the team afloat, scoring seven goals along with two assists so far this season,” said Farrell. “And Will Kelly has been a steady presence in the midfield.”
Conwell Egan maintains sole possession of seventh place. The Eagles have taken two of their past three. Goals by senior Kevin McMenamin and freshman Dillon Kopenits fueled a 2-1 win over Lansdale Catholic. Tallies by junior CJ Czafit and freshman Tyler Schmitt aided a 2-0 victory over Bonner-Prendergast.
A subsequent 3-0 loss to Archbishop Ryan was nothing to be ashamed about.
“We went down early but the boys didn’t quit, and we were able to sustain Ryan’s attack being down 1-0 at halftime,” said Conwell-Egan coach Mike Rigney. “In the end, Ryan came out hard in the second half and to their credit just worked hard and were able to score two more goals.
“Another busy week ahead for the team as we host Archbishop Carroll on Tuesday and go on the road against Archbishop Wood this Friday. We have a great group of hard working boys that are committed to learning and improving each day.”
At 0-4, Archbishop Carroll hopes to notch its first league win sometime soon. The Patriots turned in a strong non-league performance against Dock Mennonite.
“We are doing a lot better,” said Carroll coach Kendall Walkes. “We lost in the 69th minute. (Senior centerback) Grant Grube threatened the goal with a brilliant free kick that rebounded but was not converted. We also had two freshmen (Jack Gallagher and Ryan Cook) who were outstanding, playing multiple positions because the team was shorthanded due to injuries.”
(Contact John Knebels at Jknebels@gmail.com or on Twitter @johnknebels.)
Tag(s): Home Schools Philadelphia Catholic Soccer Boys Soccer Philadelphia Catholic League Arch. Carroll Boys Soccer Arch. Ryan Boys Soccer Arch. Wood 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 Roman Catholic Soccer Saint Joseph's Prep Soccer Devon Prep