Boys Soccer: Central League Previews

Tuesday’s paper played host to the high school soccer preview, which included my feature story on the influence of British coaches in Delaware County plus five players to watch for boys and girls. As promised, here is a team-by-team look at the soccer programs in Delaware County.

There is no denying the history made at Ridley last season, when Wayne McKinney’s Green Raiders won their first playoff game in 40 years as part of a 12-win campaign. Replicating that after losing six seniors will be a challenge.

But McKinney is confident in the core that returns. Seniors Rory Kelly, Jonah Schiavo and Esteban Munoz saw significant time last season, and senior goalie John Kopko has some experience to draw on as he steps in between the posts. Also returning are Jason Hannigan and Riley Brown.

Among the newcomers poised to make big impacts are Jamie Fisher, Brett Korn, Joseph Kitongo and Lucas Miller.

Radnor midfielder/forward James Cellucci could be a big factor for the Raiders this season. (Times File)

Radnor midfielder/forward James Cellucci could be a big factor for the Raiders this season. (Times File)

Radnor coach Joe Caruolo is facing what seems to be a familiar issue: He has six varsity players returning from last year’s playoff appearance, so there will be plenty of opportunities for youngsters to step up on a team that isn’t as senior-driven as last year’s.

The midfield will be a point of strength, with Adrian Moscol and Alex Egg-Krings returning, while defender Sasha Abadi will also tuck into a more attacking role from time to time. The forward line will also be seasoned, with James Cellucci and Max Barish having success a season ago, while Drew Ryan will also contribute.

The underclassmen will push those returnees for minute. Junior Rodrigo Castro played in a variety of positions last year and figures to get more of a look this year, while sophomore forward Peter Cooke and sophomore midfielder Miles Maesaka will also see significant time.

Another team looking to build off a playoff appearance last season is Strath Haven. Ryan O’Neill will need to replace several key contributors from last season’s team, but the corps of juniors and seniors that returns with varsity experience should help steady the ship.

Dylan Pratzner, Will Haury, Ben Wolters, Joe Soffer, Will Hotham and Matt Eiel all contributed in one form or another last year and provide a solid midfield and defensive core, plus Eiel in goal. Youngsters Evan Savoth and Cam Ricciardi will also contribute significantly.

A potential dark horse in the Central League reckoning is Penncrest, which started last season strong before a late fade that sealed its postseason fate. The spine of the club is seasoned, headed by senior defenders Jude Morgan and Dan Bullitt, while Drew Hanna and Ryan Schultz will form an experienced fulcrum in midfield.

Sam Brown, a prolific scorer as a freshman, returns to lead the line as a sophomore, and Liam Thomas provides a veteran touch between the posts. Senior Brendon O’Boyle will also bolster the midfield depth.

Haverford should be greatly improved from last year’s 5-13 effort in Jeff Jackson’s first season. The impetus for improvement will center on the junior class, which involves talented players like Angelo Carranza and Cole Mays.

Seniors Ryan Brown, Willie Fineberg and Tom Leonard will provide the leadership for the underclassmen to flourish.

Last season, hopes were high that Marple Newtown’s talented class of 2016 would start to put together the pieces. Injuries brought those hopes to an early halt, but coach Charlie Dodds believes this year’s crop can learn from last season’s struggles.

Among those back are forwards Hunter Dyson and George Lambritsios, both juniors with two years of varsity experience. Tony Mandell also provides a veteran presence, as does goalie Josh Gotlieb while newcomer Josh Lessing will contribute.

Last season, Springfield was unable to build on its 2012 playoff berth with a 6-12 campaign. The youthful struggles that team incurred could pay off this year.

The forward line, which sputtered last season but grew as the year went on, will be led by senior Danny Korinth and junior Mike Wallace. Three-year starter Justin Donnelly, part of a deep junior class, will anchor the defense alongside Jack Schott, while the midfield could be a real strength. Nick Jannelli, who’s seen significant time since he was a freshman, will be the animator there with help from Ryan Straube.

Somehow, Garnet Valley coach Jim Wallace will have to replace the 13 seniors that graduated from last season’s squad. The returnees with significant experience under the belts are few and far between. Danny Buzza, Mike Millar and goalkeeper Ryan Hurley will have to step up big, while a lot is expected from super sophomore Matt Moore.

It will likely be a completely different team than the one that finished last season, but that opens opportunities for playing time for a handful of talented sophomores and freshmen who might be thrown straight into the fire.

Coach Larry Flood returns a veteran squad featuring 12 seniors for Upper Darby. The attack, led by Loseni Konneh and Kelvin Paye, is back largely intact. But the defense in front of goalies Bryam Gordillo and John Thornton is complete rebuilt from last season.

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