It’s not too often that you get to bring back your best player at the same time where you bring back 90 percent of your team.
Haverford coach Dan Greenspun is pretty happy, then, when it comes to everything his Fords bring back this year.
“Most of our team is juniors with experience,” Greenspun said. “They almost all started or at least played as sophomores, so there’s a lot coming back.
Three-sport star Kevin Leyden headlines that talented junior class that Greenspun hopes will spearhead a Haverford renaissance. Leyden, a Penn State commit and All-Delco running back, has the potential to be the best athlete every time he steps on the field. A year ago, Leyden fired home 55 goals en route to earning second-team All-Central League honors and this year, he has unlimited potential with a more developed supporting cast.
“It’s easy to coach when you have a kid like that,” Greenspun said. “He’s extremely athletic, he can do almost everything on the field that you ask and everyone’s always going to be watching him.”
While Leyden is more of an established commodity, Owen Green is a junior midfielder that Greenspun expects big things from. After scoring 17 goals last year, Green’s production should skyrocket as one of Haverford’s go-to scoring threats.
“Owen really developed in the last year,” Greenspun said. “He can go left or right, he shoots well on the run and he’s a lot more physical than he was last year. He’s a lot more of a complete midfielder at this point.”
Juniors Mike Muff (midfield) and Colin Mottolla (attack) will also be tasked with peppering goalies with shots all year. Muff moved from attack to midfield in the Fords’ last game of the year last year and proved himself enough to earn a starting spot.
“We saw a completely different side of him,” Greenspun said of Muff. “He can dodge and shoot and he’ll be a good addition to the offense. He adds a nice little dimension from the midfield, especially with people keying on Kevin and Owen.”
Mottolla struggled early last year, so much so that he lost his spot in the lineup, but came back after Haverford suffered some injuries and made the most of his opportunity.
“He started to break out at the end of last year with a couple key goals,” Greenspun said. “He can dodge to free himself up, he’s got a good shot and he’s much more solid of a player than he was last year. He’s really turned into a little bit of a threat for us.”
Defensively, the common theme of returners also applies to a group led by juniors Dylan Simonson and Steve McCrossin, plus senior Alex Host. All three are six feet or taller, which provides some size for the Fords, and Greenspun singled out the group’s physicality as a trait to admire.
“All three of them have experience,” Greenspun said. “I don’t think we have superstars back there, but they’re very, very solid.”
They’ll need to be, at least in the early going, in order to allow senior Gavin Vanstone time to get his feet wet in the net. Vanstone takes over for multi-year starter Chris Treat (Cabrini). Vanstone excels in the clearing game and is developing more and more in terms of stopping shots and Greenspun has liked what he’s seen.
“There are times where he looks very, very good,” Greenspun said. “We’re looking for a little more consistency from him, but he’s showing signs that he can be extremely good.”
Sounds like a microcosm of the team, actually.
“It’s a cliché, but we’re just trying to get better every single day,” Greenspun said. “We’ve got some hard-working good kids who realize that we do have some potential, but we have to see how it plays out on the field. Playing in the Central League, if you don’t bring it every night, it’s going to be tough.”
– MATT CHANDIK