Soccer: 10 lessons from a busy weekend

It’s been a busy weekend on the soccer pitch, most of which I’ve been out of the office for. The reward for those days off is a stack of about 40-some results from Thursday through Saturday, one that seems to ask as many questions as it answers. That leaves a lot of looking back for me and trying to piece my way through some puzzling results, both for the girls and boys soccer contingents from Delco.

So, with that big of a body of work, I figured I’d try to put together the top 10 things I learned sorting through all those results.

1. The Central League boys field is an almighty mess. See if you can follow this: Radnor lost to Harriton, which lost to Marple Newtown, which lost to Springfield, which lost to Upper Darby, which lost to Ridley, which lost to Strath Haven, which lost to Lower Merion, which lost to Penncrest, which lost to Springfield, which lost to Conestoga, which lost to Radnor. That look 10 teams to come full circle. That’s a tad convoluted.

Conor Bradley and Haverford School scored a big win this weekend, topping the top team in the nation. (Courtesy photo/LISA AMENT)

Conor Bradley and Haverford School scored a big win this weekend, topping the top team in the nation. (Courtesy photo/LISA AMENT)

2. Rumors of the Strath Haven girls team’s demise were greatly exaggerated. After beating Conestoga 1-0 on a Saturday morning (which is just terrible scheduling, as far as I’m concerned) , the Panthers appear to be the class of the Central League again. Much of that is due to the 12 goals scored by Lizzie King this season, including the winner against the Pioneers.

3. Haverford School is good. I mean really good. In a result that surfaced too late for print Saturday night, the Fords dealt a 1-0 defeat to St. Benedict’s of New Jersey, the No. 1 team in the nation according to Top Drawer Soccer. The Fords have risen as high as No. 7 in the national rankings. I think they might get a bump this week.

4. The Penncrest girls team is for real. I can’t say I’m surprised that Penncrest – thanks to Olivia Mancarella’s uncontrollable scoring streak – beat Haverford. I can say that I’m shocked they trounced them, 5-1. This is a team with a strong defensive spine anchored by Kayla Allen in goal. And while the Lions have two losses in Central League play, the 8-2 record is pretty impressive. Let’s see how it holds up against Radnor, Strath Haven and Conestoga.

5. The Penncrest boys team is, too. Maybe. That list of three teams left waiting in the wings is just as daunting for the Penncrest boys squad, a team that carries a 7-1 record. Consider, though, that the Lions are coming off a 3-0 win over Lower Merion, a team that beat Strath Haven and clobbered Marple Newtown, 6-1. If Penncrest proves to be eight goals better than Marple (they’re not, of course), that would be something.

6. Ben Toomey means a lot to Radnor. Having seen Radnor play, I assumed their stinginess was due in large part to their defense, and that Toomey’s run of clean sheets was perhaps down more to the defense in front of him than anything. But Toomey conceded just three goals over eight matches (six clean sheets), then is out a game and Radnor allows four goals to a Harriton team with three league losses. That can’t be a coincidence. (Though, in fairness, the Ryan Young Thursday faced 12 shots, more than Toomey has in a game all season.)

7. The Garnet Valley girls team is red hot. All of a sudden, the Jaguars have won six straight, including a pair of overtime triumphs. Britney Dragoni is the creative force they need her to be, and Rachel Glenn is doing the finishing that needs to be done for the Jaguars to have righted the ship.

8. The Del-Val League will be tight again this year. When the first meeting between Penn Wood and Interboro comes down to overtime and finishes 6-5, you know that there are some great attacking talents at play. Hassan Warritay (with the game-winner) and John Manasary (a brace like Warritay) won the day in the first meeting, but I wouldn’t count out an Interboro team featuring a talent like Diego Lopez. Plus, let’s not forget the Bucs got into the postseason by winning the second meeting last year after a loss in the first.

9. Taylor Mingle might be a game-change for Delco Christian. The Knights needed three goals from Mingle, including the game-winner, to get by a so-so Shipley squad last week. Maybe Mingle’s not a marquee scorer at the varsity level just yet. But if she can be another threat at the disposal of Kailey Neef’s deep-lying playmaking, complementing Julia Kyne’s obvious goalscoring ability and presenting a tertiary option to Alex Thompson up top, defenses will have to think long and hard as to which poison they’ll pick against the Knights’ attack.

10. The Springfield girls offense might just be awakened. Upper Darby has struggle mightily this season, sure. But a nine-goal outburst for the Cougars last week has to be a welcomed jolt for an offense that had scored just eight times in its first nine games, getting shutout three times. Perhaps Shynelle Fry’s four goals and Erin Cutcliff’s brace are an omen of more offense to come.

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