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.
Del Val League
Reigning co-champions Penn Wood return six starters from last season, and they’re hungry to reclaim a berth to the District One Tournament that went to fellow champ Interboro via a league tiebreaker.
Captains John Manasary, Collins Asimoah and Koffi Adjesson each have two years of varsity experience under their belts, and they are joined by co-captain Alex Trabanino. A hard-nosed defense will be anchored by Frankie Knuckles, while the likes of Andrew Nmah, Prince Bla and Carlos DeAngelo will fill out the ranks for Ed Kramer’s side.
Hopes are high at Academy Park that several years of building a strong core could pay dividends. The senior class, led by forward Paul Freeman and midfielder Samuka Kaba, is deep and has plenty of experience playing at the high school level. The midfield will be an area of strength, with Kaba and juniors Michael Satimehin and Preston Johnson having been through the battles at the varsity level. Youngster Konta Marrah will contribute in the middle of the pitch as well, while goalie Troy Macauley has games under his belt from last fall.
Veteran Foday Kayateh returns for Interboro’s attack, which is faced with replacing a bevy of graduated seniors. Others who will be contributing are Diego and Willie Lopez.
Jared Sullivan, Adam Youseff and Austin Wilson are among a number of returnees for Chichester.
There are question marks for Bonner-Prendergast coach Jim Strandberg to answer on his team. But they don’t center around how they plan on defending the goal.
On a team boasting 15 seniors, the issue of stopping teams is in good hands thanks to veteran shot-stopper Jon Mathis. The entire back four of Colin Moran, Ryan O’Neill, Brandon Hall and Sean O’Connell has experience playing together. Where the goals will come from – among the potential candidates are Malcolm Burton and Ryan Kerrigan – remains a bit of a mystery. But the hope is that the defensive solidity will provide a platform for counterattacking soccer and reduce the burden on the frontline to produce.
Both Cardinal O’Hara and Archbishop Carroll are under new leadership. Blaise Santangelo is at the helm of the Patriots, replacing Kevin Curley. James Gush has been replaced after two seasons at O’Hara by Sean Pearson.
Tri-State Christian Conference
There are just five veteran holdovers (two seniors, three juniors) from Christian Academy’s 15-win campaign in 2013, but the spine of the team is intact for Brain Dennsteadt.
All-Delco Evan Needs returns for his senior season as one of the most prolific scorers in Southeastern Pennsylvania. His main supplier, Brit Haseltine, is back in the midfield, while big Jake Sitkowski anchors the defense in front of three-year starting goalkeeper Joseph Opdenaker. Among the potential new contributors is Caleb Robinson.
An 11-win season and a taste of the playoffs has revitalized the Sun Valley program, which is a good thing considering the legion of players they’ll have to replace from last year’s spectacular season.
About the only connection to the squad is Ben Golder, who scored seven goals as a sophomore. The two-year starter will see time as a forward and a midfielder; regardless of where he is on the pitch, he’ll be leaned upon heavily. Other returnees include senior midfielder Josh Lehrberger and sophomore defender Kevin Cullen.
There are a number of areas for newcomers projected to make an impact this season. Julian Bombara, a senior, inherits the goalkeepers’ gloves guarded by Matt Skwirut for three seasons. Senior forward Andrew Sarnocinski will help fill the goalscoring void, while midfielders Tyler Smith and Steve Shapiro and defender Jake Benz will also get long looks.
There’s hope that a rough 2013 will give way to a more prosperous 2014 season for Episcopal Academy. The growing pains of a youthful squad last season were aided by injuries, and there’s hope that those struggles are in the past. The likes of Ramon Gallegos, Matthew De Pillis and Aaron Bogle will liven up the attack, while Matt Freese is likely to continue in goal.
Haverford School returns a bevy of talent, including All-Delcos Connor Gregory and Shane Bradley as well as reigning player of the year Conor Bradley from a gifted sophomore class. Others, such as goalie Quinn Letter and midfielder Jimmy Tricoli, will gird the squad against a nationally-ranked schedule.
Bicentennial Athletic League
After not having the numbers to field a varsity team last season, Delco Christian has enough to outfit full varsity and JV squads in 2014, a nice improvement for a program with a fairly rich soccer history.
Brody Veleber will be in goal for the Knights, while the likes of Ryan Norton, Daniel Nichols, Jordan Dozier and Nathan Daniel will help provide goals for the Knights.