West Chester, PA-- What a year it was for the Archbishop Wood’s soccer team. The Vikings defeated Roman Catholic in the Philadelphia Catholic League (PCL) championship, won a district title, and then advanced to the state playoffs. The season did not go all the way, however, as Wood dropped a 3-2 decision to the Strath Haven Panthers in the semifinal round of the PIAA Class AAA tournament November 13 at West Chester East High School.
“I thought our efforts showed,” said senior defender Joe Baranoski. “The ball didn’t bounce our way.”
The Vikings were off to a fine start in this important contest. Junior midfielder Ryan Morgan tallied a goal during the opening period. The 1-0 score stayed in check for a while before Baranoski found the net just 1:07 into the second stanza with sophomore midfielder Shane Collier assisting.
Then it was a whole different story from that point onward. The lead was cut in half just 28 seconds later and by the middle of the period, the Panthers tied it up and eventually took a permanent lead to emerge victorious.
“After we went up 2-0, I think we just got a little too lazy,” said Morgan. “We lost our focus a little bit. We got a little unorganized and they capitalized on the mistakes we made.”
The Vikings concluded their season with a final record of 19-5. Strath Haven improved to 16-2-2 as it earned its trip to the state championship game at Hersheypark Stadium.
Despite the loss, the Vikings orchestrated a great season.
“We accomplished a really good thing as a unit,” said head coach Hugh Kelly. “Nothing can take it back . . . I’m proud of them.”
“I love these guys with all my heart,” said Morgan. “They are my teammates forever. It did not end the way we wanted it to, but overall, we accomplished one of our goals but did not accomplish our second in winning the State Championship."
The loss hit the Wood seniors particularly hard, as demonstrated by their open emotions.
Wood celebrates victory vs. La Salle during PCL season. (file photo by Kathy Leister for PSD).
“After being up 2-0, it definitely gave us a lot of confidence for the rest of the game,” said senior Koty Taylor. “They started to gain possession and started gaining confidence and we couldn’t respond. After losing the lead, it definitely changed how the game would be played.”
Taylor was asked about the challenge of being accountable during difficult times.
“It’s tough to lose that way, but I was proud of everyone on the team,” he said. “After losing three straight games in the regular season, we definitely needed a reality check. I think after losing a game, the most important thing was moving on and keeping our heads high.”
That’s another mark of a winner.
Wood seniors (l to r) Connor Ford, Joe Trodden, Koty Taylor & Bob Hennessey (file photo by Patty Morgan for PSD).