As it usually does, the power balance of the Central League on the boys soccer pitch lies outside of Delaware County. Perennial powers like Conestoga and Lower Merion generally have the largest pull in dictating the direction of the league championship.
But that doesn’t mean the Delco contingent won’t have a say. Later this week, I’ll be catching up with Strath Haven, who enters the season as arguably the most highly-touted of the Delco teams.
Closely on their heels is likely to be Radnor. Joe Caruolo, who makes the jump from a District One-playoff qualifying girls team last year, inherits a squad with a strong nucleus of eight returning contributors from last year’s 7-9-2 season and 18 total seniors who he hopes will vault his team into the title mix.
Chris Martin will shoulder much of the goal-scoring burden, joined by Nico Pelaez. Peter Donato and Tyler Helms will be in the engine room of the midfield, and Matt Lundstrom will anchor the backline.
Garnet Valley also benefits from a large contingent of returning players, led by All-Delco Mike Cross. A lot will be asked of the senior, who’ll have free rein to move between central defense and the center of midfield as the Jaguars all-purpose stopper.
Cross will be joined in the midfield by fellow captain John Schwein, who’ll be asked to pull the strings in attack. The backline has a veteran flavor thanks to Zach Donchez, Mason Rose and Colton Richards in front of junior goalkeeper Connor Bradley.
Up front, Jason Cavanaugh will do most of the heavy lifting, aided by Justin Von Ahnen and Chris Miele.
At Penncrest, Paul Norris has amassed a number of talented players that he believes can help the Lions improve on the 5-13 record they posted a year ago. With seniors Mike Swantek and Carlos Sierra and playmaking sophomore Ricky Vogler driving the offense, the Lions have proven an ability to score on a regular basis.
Peter Coote is a battle-tested goalie, and seniors Ian Campbell and Ryan O’Connell, as well as sophomore Jude Morgan, form a solid defense in support of Coote.
Springfield, fresh off last season’s run to the second round of districts, faces the loss of All-Delco Zac Furia. They still return a strong nucleus, though, that expects to get back to the same level this season.
The backline is rock solid thanks to returning starters Mark Gurenlian, Luke Krauter, Nick Fosco and Kyle Chevalier and veteran goalkeeper Dave Sousa. Nick Scarpato and Bobby Cardie will anchor the midfield and try to link up with forward Jesse Stewart. Junior Mark Gorman and freshmen Nick Jannelli and Justin Donnelly should also be contributors.
Perhaps the most intriguing squad is Marple Newtown. Through graduation and injuries, Charlie Dodds returns a mere three players. But his six-player strong freshman class, an abnormally large contingent for the veteran coach, has made an instant impact.
Forward Hunter Dyson looks like the real deal in his early varsity days. He’ll be joined in the major contributor department by Rocco Mesoraca, George Lambritios, Antonio Manell, Chris Costa and Scott Zella.
Joey Dyson will continue to anchor the midfield, while Nick Pezzotti will shoulder most of the goal-scoring burden.
Ridley has a new coach, but he’s anything but a novice, as former Sun Valley, Malvern and longtime college coach Wayne McKinney takes the reins of his alma mater.
The defense, spearheaded by Timothy Furman and Trevor Brooks, is solid, a good thing for a team whose net will be tended primarily by freshman Jay Paul Volpone.
There are myriad options in attack, including Romario Elbasani, Andrew Kelly, Joe Harmon and freshman Joe Bradley. Ball possession should be a strength for the Green Raiders; so far on the young season, they’ve managed to answer the question of who the finishers on the squad are.
Upper Darby is looking to rebound off a 2011 season head coach Tom Farr called “disastrous” with player after player being felled with injuries.
Luckily for Farr though, many of those six injured starters from a season ago are back healthy and ready to seek redemption.
Ansu Corneh will be one of the main protagonists in attack, while seniors Melvin Ewuloy, Peter Flomo, Stewart Mena, Abdoul Sylla and Sam and Dan Ortiz should all contribute on the veteran-laden team.