The time has come to draw the curtain on the fall season, with the unveiling of the All-Delco teams marking a ceremonial delineation between the seasons. Before we turn our attentions squarely to winter, it’s worth a few more words about the fall that was on the soccer pitch and the teams that made it so interesting. Here’s an appraisal of where the boys teams in Delco stand.
1. Haverford School (15-3-2)
This is about as big a no-brainer as you can imagine. The team that produced Player of the Year Shane Bradley had the best defense in Delco, giving up just 10 goals all season and three in 10 Inter-Ac games en route to a third straight title and the No. 14 ranking in the nation, per Top Drawer Soccer. The scariest thing is how little the Fords lose. Gone this year are the brothers McBride, Tucker and Shane, starting fullbacks Senan Farelly and Brandon Shima and goalie Quinn Letter. The latter may be the most difficult to replace, but the fact that both center backs, the central and attacking midfield cores and leading scorer (in fact, a total of 84 percent of their goal scoring) are all back means a run at four straight league titles is a very real possibility.
2. Springfield (12-7)
This Cougars team epitomizes what a solid program is. It was one star player (All-Delco Nick Jannelli) and a bunch of really solid role players who consistently did their jobs with limited mistakes. That’s what got Springfield to the second round of districts, and with Jannelli back next year, it reduces the onus on the supporting cast to do anything other than provide steady minutes.
3. Episcopal Academy (9-9-5)
The record isn’t impressive, made worse by not scoring a goal over their last four matches, but that was the only flaw on this team. They go 2-4-4 in the Inter-Ac, allowing just 10 goals. All four losses were by one goal. If you put a player like Connor Gregory on this team, EA is in the Inter-Ac title conversation thanks to a steady defense headed by Michael Hinckley and goalkeeper Matt Freese.
4. Penncrest (14-4-1)
The Lions’ ability to earn a top-10 districts seed despite the myriad injuries suffered is nothing short of remarkable. They relied on their anchors at the back – defender Jude Morgan and goalkeeper Liam Thomas – then filled in around them. It’s a shame they didn’t do more in the postseason, but then again, the margin between a No. 9 seed and a No. 24 isn’t as large as you might think given the numbers.
5. Interboro (15-4)
Before the playoff ouster against Kennett, Interboro had rattled off 12 straight wins. They’re a team that peaked late and kept rolling, including wins over Springfield, Ridley, Upper Merion, Upper Darby and Cardinal O’Hara outside of the league. The fact that All-Delco Kyle Dutch and second-teamer Diego Lopez return next season means that they are a team to watch in the future.
6. Strath Haven (10-7-2)
Two straight seasons, the Panthers have let a lead slip away in what became a first-round playoff loss. This season was spent piecing together a number of combinations seeing what works, and that tinkering means plenty of underclassmen got time, which should bode well for the future.
7. Radnor (10-9)
Much like EA, we’re left to wonder what the Raiders could’ve done with a consistent goalscorer. Radnor had just 20 goals in 19 games, lost seven games by one goal (including five 1-0 losses) and was shutout six times.
Honorable mention: Marple Newtown (11-7; the Tigers should probably be higher in these rankings, I’ll admit, and their loaded junior class means they possess a great deal of potential returning. But next season, they’ll need to find more impressive nonleague wins than Delco Christian, Bonner-Prendergast, Norristown and Chichester); Penn Wood (11-5-1; I’m really shocked how that loss to Interboro sent the Patriots season into a tailspin, finishing the season 1-4-1 to drop out of the playoff picture); Christian Academy (18-0-1; any team that goes unbeaten through a season deserves some serious credit).