We at the Daily Times cherish our tradition of the All-Delco teams, providing closure and a recap of the best performances of each and every high school season. But there are performances and performers that can’t be captured in the scant few first- and second-team positions that are reserved for the elite of the area.
It’s no surprise that it takes a bit of time to reach those heights, as shown by the veteran composition of the boys and girls soccer All-Delco teams. Often left out in the cold are young players whose better days are certainly ahead of them.
So to rectify that, let’s take a look at those young players who impressed this season and may be populating the All-Delco teams of tomorrow. Think of it as an unofficial All-Delco for the young players. Ladies first.
(Note: This selection is just a smattering of some of the young players that stood out to me this season. It’s not meant to be the be-all and end-all list. “Young player” is considered to be sophomores and freshmen.)
Jackie Sever, Garnet Valley: Sever started at the fullback position for the Jaguars as a sophomore this season and was a solid cog in a very stout defense. Expect her to assume more responsibility next year with the graduation of Julia McGrath.
Mollie Reynolds, Bonner-Prendergast: The bright spots were few and far between for the Pandas this season, but in Reynolds they have a freshman defender with excellent instincts and a high skill level to build upon.
Olivia Butera, Haverford: Just a sophomore, Butera led the Fords with eight goals, over a third of their output. Together with speedy freshman Athena Pilato, Butera could provide the Fords with some serious firepower in the years to come.
Holly Nicolardi, Marple Newtown: I’ve detailed the upside of the Marple sophomore class before, and Nicolardi has the potential to be at the forefront of that group. She’s blessed with tremendous size and strength; if she builds on her technical ability on the ball, she could be a very good player.
Taylor Cutcliff, Springfield: The sophomore scored three goals this season, tied for second-most on the Cougars. She and junior Emily Verica make for an interesting nucleus returning next season for Springfield.
Anna Gentile, Upper Darby: The Royals managed just five goals all season, but one of those came from Gentile, who as a freshman showed the work rate and skills to be a formidable winger.
Phoebe McLernon, Notre Dame: The Irish were a young team this season that suffered through some growing pains. But if they mature and gel as a team, much of it likely will be around the poised central midfield play of the freshman McLernon.
Cassidy Moretti, Penncrest: Another freshman, Moretti got a taste of the starting lineup for the Lions this season. She looked naturally comfortable in the midfield against girls three years her senior, but she’ll face a big test with the graduation of midfield rock Paige Phillips.
Grace Dickey, Strath Haven: Hard to believe she’s just a sophomore, but Dickey more than held her own in a stellar midfield. The Panthers have a bevy of young players in the wing-forward roles in the favored 4-3-3 system, but Dickey provides a steady midfield hand that seems to be a Haven hallmark.
Jess DiGiacomo, Cardinal O’Hara: Her scoring tailed off as the season wore on, but seven goals was still an impressive return for the sophomore. We’ll see how she moves to fill the production voids left by the graduations of Catherine and Christina Wroblewski and Carly Mirarchi next season.
Kristin Burnetta, Agnes Irwin: My pick for newcomer of the year, Burnetta’s return from injury midseason transformed the Owls. She scored 11 goals in nine games and has all the tools to be a dominant striker: Outstanding speed, excellent strength on the ball and a powerful shot.
Leah Becker, Episcopal Academy: Speaking of Inter-Ac strikers, it difficult to believe Becker is merely a sophomore. She led the Inter-Ac champs with 11 goals, and she has the versatility to do more than just finish, including play a more defensive-minded midfield role.
Megan Lynch/Julia Lynch, Marple Newtown: We had to get more Marple in here. The freshmen combined for nine goals this season (seven for Megan, two for Julia). They both possess outstanding natural talent that will only increase with experience.