Pictured in the first row, from left; Emily Tomlinson, Devan Masciulli and Mia Sexton. Second row: Alyssa Tobin, Maggie Daeche, Emily Alexis and Dan Grinrod. Third row: Zach Boop, Chris Wilson and Dylan McDonald. (Steve Sherman – 21st-Century Media)
LANGHORNE – Neshaminy senior Maggie Daeche couldn’t have picked a better way to start out her varsity soccer career. The backfielder for the lady Skins was part of a state championship team in 2013 that went unbeaten throughout the season.
Now, she’s put the icing on the cake, choosing to continue her athletic and academic quests at Drexel University. While she also had an interest in taking her game to James Madison University, she says ultimately she wanted to stay closer to the Delaware Valley.
“I wanted my parents to be able to come and watch me play,” said Daeche. “They’re a big part of my life so I really want them to come and watch.
Well, that and she wants to get a taste of urban life by attending a campus in University City, Philadelphia.
“I’ve always lived here; I’ve lived in the same house my whole life,” she said. “So I thought it would be cool to live in the city for just a short amount of time because I’ve never done that before.”
For others, a college choice comes down to a connection with your future teammates.
Midfielder Alyssa Tobin had also considered Wagner and Kutztown but felt she was treated a lot better when she took her official trip to West Chester.
“I just liked the area a lot more,” said Alyssa. “When I went on a visit, the girls were a lot nicer there. They made me feel more comfortable.”
Like Daeche, Tobin was part of the team that won states in 2013. While the Skins made an early exit from districts in each of the next two years, Neshaminy returned to postseason prominence. Indeed, the Skins won four straight in shutout fashion, topping No. 3 seed Pennridge 2-0 in the final.
“It was amazing,” said Tobin. “We hadn’t gotten that far the past couple years so it was really good to be able to do that.”
Tobin thinks getting onto the varsity program at NHS as a freshman will help when she gets to West Chester.
“I got to play with girls of a lot of different ages and that will help a lot in college,” she said. “I’ll be playing 20-year-olds and girls who are a lot older.”
A forward as a sophomore and junior, Tobin in her final high school campaign, moved back to a central midfield position. She prefers the middle of the field, she said, because she likes to see the play developing in front of her.
For Neshaminy football player Chris Wilson – who also considered East Stroudsburg and Millersville – the 6-5, 295-pound lineman chose Wagner because the Seahawks said they’d play him at left tackle.
Chis likes being able to protect the quarterback’s blind side but it goes a little further, for him.
“I’m left-handed and I feel like I get a better punch with my left hand,” said Wilson. “It definitely suits me better, working from the left side.
“I really like the responsibility of being able to say to the quarterback, ‘I can protect you and you can rely on me.’
“I like having that connection with my quarterback – that he can trust me on every single play.”
Head coach Steve Wilmot thinks Chris might be better suited to a guard position at Wagner. The Seahawks have a pair of tackles who are not only tall – each is 6-7 – both are very experienced. No matter where Wilson winds up on the O-line at Wagner, Wilmot is sure he’ll be successful.
Last season, Chris earned All-Suburban One League (SOL) honors and was elected the “Most Improved” player for the Skins.
“Playing offensive line is a craft. Besides the strength and toughness you have to have to play the position, you must play with great technique,” explained Wilmot. “Chris worked very hard at perfecting his technique. Every day, he came to practice looking to improve.”
Wilson sure seems like he feels he benefited from the program at NHS.
“The coaching staff is great, here,” said Wilson. “They’re there for me, not only for football, but also for my home life and academics.
“Every person on that team is my brother,” he added. “I would go to war for those guys and I know that they would do the same for me.”
With Wilson on the front lines, Neshaminy returned to the District 1 tournament the past two years, making it as far as the District 1 Class 4A semifinals in 2015 and the Class 6A quarterfinals last fall.
The boys soccer team at NHS, meanwhile, after failing to make states the past three years, returned to the PIAA Tournament in 2016.
Two players for the Skins – Dylan McDonald and Dan Grinrod – made an impact on the team’s return to states. Both are heading off to play collegiate soccer with McDonald going to Syracuse and Grinrod staying closer to home at West Chester.
After getting off to a lukewarm start last fall, Neshaminy caught fire late in the season after head coach Tom Foley switched the playing formation from a 4-4-2 to a 4-3-3 alignment.
After winning eight straight in the regular season, the Skins toppled Owen J. Roberts in a District 1-4A opener before falling at the hands of Council Rock North in the D-1 quarterfinals. The team bounced back and made states, however, with D-1 playback wins over Lower Merion and defending state champ CB East.
“It was a good season for our last year, here, making it out to states – something that we haven’t done since I’ve been here,” said Grinrod.
Grinrod was a three-year starter who also saw time in a reserve role as a freshman. With 23 career goals and 43 assists, he capped his time off a Neshaminy with 15 goals and 16 assists last fall.
“Dan has a tremendous touch on the ball,” said Foley. “He has great vision, is a great passer and an intense competitor. He had an outstanding year and will be very difficult to replace.
McDonald was a four-year starter in the backfield. In addition to earning first team All-SOL honors as a defender, he made it onto a similar list for varsity football, where he was a placekicker.
“Dylan is versatile; he reads the game as well as any player that has come through Neshaminy,” said Foley. “He’s just an outstanding defender, very dangerous in the air, great speed, and tough. He will certainly be next to impossible to replace.
McDonald finished his time at Neshaminy with 23 career goals and 10 assists.
Additional college commits for the Skins include soccer player Emily Tomlinson (Millersville), field hockey players Mia Sexton (Temple) and Emily Alexis (Sacred Heart), baseball players Zach Boop (Lehigh) and Eddie Parry (East Stroudsburg) and softball player Devan Masciulli (Millersville).