As the regular season counts down to fewer than 10 days left, some teams are making moves and some are fading off the pace. A couple of losing streaks have ended, and one notable one continues. Let’s see where they stand. (Records based on games reported to the Daily Times through Oct. 8.)
1. Haverford School (8-1) Last Week: No. 1
Two things impress me about the Fords: 1) They don’t allow a lot of shots on goal (which doesn’t allow a very good goalie in Quinn Letter to always show his ability); and 2) In a tight Inter-Ac opener Tuesday, they found a different gear to sprint to a 5-1 win in a game tied at half. Connor Gregory’s hat trick was the first time a Ford scored multiple goals in a game this season. The assumption was that that offensive explosiveness always existed, but seeing it unfold in a league game is a major morsel of proof.
2. Springfield (10-4) Last Week: No. 4
We are getting close to the playoffs, so let’s drop the other criteria: Who’s hottest? Who has the fewest bad losses? Who has played the best in the last month? Flat out, which is the best team in the Central League after seven weeks of soccer? After seeing the Cougars beat Lower Merion and Radnor in back-to-back weeks, I’m going with them. (Also, this is the first Springfield team since 1980, according to coach Jason Piombino, to win 10 games. That’s mind blowing.)
3. Penncrest (11-3) Last Week: No. 3
The value of Drew Hanna should be underscored by his impact on the Lions’ 1-0 win over Radnor. Penncrest is getting healthier at the right time, and it was enough Tuesday to shake off a two-game losing streak in which they didn’t score a goal.
4. Radnor (9-6) Last Week: No. 2
In the last two weeks, Radnor has lost to Springfield and Penncrest. What choice is there but to drop them in the rankings? The big issue appears to be scoring. They’ve scored just one goal in four games, none in regulation. I don’t know that this squad has someone with the kind of killer instinct to put the ball in the net with any regularity, and that may prove to be their downfall.
5. Episcopal Academy (7-4-2) Last Week: No. 5
A draw with Malvern to start the Inter-Ac slate is a good sign, even if it’s a bit of a missed opportunity. The Churchmen have just one win in the last four games (though Matt De Pillis has scored in three of those) and have scored more than once in just four of 13 games this season, despite not being shutout. That seems to put a lot of pressure on the defense and goalie Matt Freese.
6. Strath Haven (8-5-1) Last Week: No. 6
Healthy again, the Panthers are playing well, winners of three straight. Haven seems to be a team with a lot of different scoring options, even if they have no one with more than five goals this season. Then again, this is a season where with one week left in the regular season, only three players from the Delco Central League teams (Hanna, Springfield’s Nick Jannelli and Marple’s George Lambritsios) have double-figures in goals.
7. Marple Newtown (10-6) Last Week: No. 7
The Tigers are over that vaunted 10-win mark, and while they don’t get much in the way of bonus points from their wins outside of Haverford, Strath Haven and Harriton, they at least have plenty of wins to fall back on. They’ve won six straight games by a combined score of 27-7. The competition in that stretch hasn’t been all that daunting, but that’s still a sizeable margin.
Honorable mention: Penn Wood (10-2, The Patriots and the Bucs are pretty inseparable at this point; the down side for Penn Wood is that they don’t have another nonleague game listed on the schedule, and you’d hate to see them penalized for only being able to cobble together a 14-game slate); Interboro (9-3, The Bucs have Ridley and Springfield left to try and make a statement for the playoffs in the search of two Del Val postseason teams); Haverford (7-7, that loss to Strath Haven Tuesday may have sealed the Fords’ postseason fate); Christian Academy (10-0-1, Evan Needs watch stands at 98 goals for a team that has won 10 straight).