Boys Soccer: What a tangled web the Central League weaves

I was just about halfway through a post trying to make sense of the boys Central League field when this little nugget of disorienting information ran across Twitter: “Penncrest 2, Lower Merion 0.”

Like with most of the knowledge I’ve thought I accumulated this season, it was time to hit the backspace button. Frequent readers of the site (and that number is increasing, for which we thank you) may have noticed new standing pages for boys and girls soccer. The latter is somewhat self-explanatory with a coherent and predictable progression of who has beaten who and few exceptions.

On the boys side, though, the paths of hierarchy are about as muddled as a Jackson Pollock painting. Take those Lions, who are unbeaten in their last five matches, including the win over the perennial power Aces. It was Penncrest’s first win in Central League play, though its conference play highlights included a draw with Springfield, which toppled defending PIAA Class AAA champion and once-invincible Conestoga, which perhaps wasn’t the win it was once thought to be since the Pioneers also lost to Radnor this week, a Radnor team that couldn’t get by Upper Darby, which needed overtime to best Ridley, which drew with Penncrest.

Phew, take a minute to digest that.

We’re almost halfway through the league state, and it’s no stretch to say that there are more questions now than when the season kicked off.

At the top, for the moment, you’ve got Strath Haven. But the Panthers are relatively untested thanks to a troika of 3-0 wins, a defeat of Springfield and an overtime loss to Lower Merion. The run-in for them is going to be hectic to say the least.

To some, that might posit Harriton as the team to beat in the league, and indeed they and Strath Haven are the only teams sitting at 4-1-0. But for the Rams’ numerous accomplishments – which include 5-0 drubbings of Springfield and Penncrest – the loss is a 5-0 thrashing at the hands of a less-than-elite Conestoga squad.

We’ve seen the troubles of Lower Merion (which also has a scoreless draw with Radnor) and Conestoga. But Radnor’s loss to Upper Darby is a blow to its top-flight credibility, at least until we see how the Royals fare in a late-season gauntlet from which only Conestoga (1-0 loss) and Radnor can be counted as tests already taken.

Penncrest’s win also shows that teams near the bottom of the standings are able to play the role of spoiler, or perhaps more. That goes for Haverford, Ridley, Garnet Valley even Marple Newtown when they get healthy.

I think I’m in the majority by saying that I have no idea where their crazy roller coaster is going to finish up, but I’ll sure enjoy the ride.

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