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Pioneer Athletic Conference

2017 Mercury Area Boys Soccer Preview

The 2017 boys soccer season gets underway on Friday, Sept. 1. Here’s a brief look at what to expect this fall from the teams around the Mercury’s coverage area:

Boyertown

Boyertown’s Ben Margavich, left, boots the ball away from Pennridge’s Sebastian Perkowski in first half action. (DFM file)

Head coach: Scott Didyoung, 26th season

Last year’s record: 9-4 PAC, 13-8 overall, PAC champion, District 1-AAAA qualifier

Players to watch: Seniors Ben Margavich, def.; Connor Reiss, def./fwd.; Ben Vermeesch, def.; Jimmy Towers, fwd.; Sal Marciante, fwd. Junior Derek Dierolf, mid.

Outlook: The Bears became back-to-back PAC champions in 2016 after recovering from a poor start to the season to hit their stride at the right time. Gone is a deep class of graduated seniors, including Mercury All-Area first teamers Alex Kidwell and Erik Recke, that kept Boyertown near the top of the PAC as upperclassmen. A smaller, but experienced core returns, led by All-Area honorable mentions Ben Margavich and Jimmy Towers. Longtime coach Scott Didyoung isn’t worried about the roster turnover, characterizing the 2017 Bears having “more team speed and quickness” and “more depth and versatility than in previous years.” Boyertown won’t face the same burden of expectation as a year ago. While they aren’t the league favorite in the same way, a return trip to the PAC semifinals and a shot at a three-peat should be in the cards.

Daniel Boone

Daniel Boone’s Cooper Duffie carries the ball upfield against Dallas. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

Head coach: Kevin Morris, 1st season

Last year’s record: 6-4 Berks I, 14-9 overall; District 3-AAA quarterfinalist; PIAA Class AAA second round

Players to watch: Seniors Carter Ferguson, fwd.; Ben Hoffmanner, def. Juniors Collin Barndt, mid.; Cooper Duffie, mid.

Outlook: Daniel Boone enjoyed its finest season in 2016 when it made the most of the state’s classification realignment and made the second round of the PIAA Class AAA playoffs. The bulk of the lineup graduated, including All-Area first team forward Jamie Burns, making for a year of regrouping for the Blazers, a task that will be overseen by coach Kevin Morris who stepped in for outgoing Matt Kade. Morris believes his back four will be tough one-on-one and in the air and spoke of defending as a full unit, signaling a possible departure from the high-octane attacking style under Kade. “The goal is always to qualify for districts when we begin each season,” Morris said. “This year several new starters will have to step up for the team reach districts.”

Hill School

Head coach: Chris Drowne, 12th season

Last year’s record: 12-6-2 overall, PAISAA Champions

Players to watch: Seniors Patrick Adams, mid.; Chris Kingston, GK; Phillip Bell, mid. Junior Euan Forrest, def.

Outlook: The Hill School ended last season in the finest way imaginable – winning the Pa. Independent Schools championship in penalty kicks over Penn Charter. With 12 seniors on this year’s roster, more than a few remember the feeling and they’ll want to do it again. The task won’t be so simple with the graduations of Mercury All-Area Player of the Year Toni Adewole (Navy) and first team midfielder Jake Fetterman. Those are big shoes to fill, but there are new additions expected to hit the ground running. “We have at least a pair of returning lettermen in each third of the field, including a majority of starters. The five incoming students are expected to contribute immediately as well,” coach Chris Drowne said. According to Drowne, the Mid-Atlantic Prep League is ‘loaded this year,’ but that doesn’t change the expectations for Hill, which will cut its teeth against a nationally-ranked schedule in the early going to prepare for the key MAPL and PAISAA postseason contests.

Methacton

Head coach: Dave Stevenson, 1st season

Last​ ​year’s​ ​record: 6-6-1 PAC, 7-9-1 overall

Players​ ​to​ ​watch: Senior Vince Delisi, fwd. Juniors Trevor ‘TJ’ Taylor, mid.; Logan Rambo, def.; Trevor Rambo, mid.; Chris Meehan, mid.

Outlook: The Warriors plan to take a more disciplined, ‘business-like’ approach this season under new head coach Dave Stevenson. Stevenson likes the depth of his new side, which is led by senior All-Area honorable mention forward Vince Delisi and a strong junior class. “The team intends to be more focused and ‘business-like’ in games this season, leading to an overall increased respect for the game,” Stevenson said. “The Liberty Division of the PAC will be very competitive and there will be many close, exciting games.” If the Warriors can turn more of the close games into wins than a year ago, a winning record is theirs to be had with a return to the District 1 playoffs within reach.

Owen J. Roberts

OJR’s Matt Pron chases the ball down the sideline as Phoenixville’s Jared Carboy battles. (DFM file)

Head coach: Eric Wentzel, 6th season

Last year’s record: 12-9 overall, PAC semifinalist, District 1-AAAA second round

Players to watch: Seniors Matt Pron, def.; Graham Pugh, mid. Junior Sam Smith, fwd.; Josh Fonder, mid.; Dom Carroll, def.

Outlook: The Wildcats graduated a large senior contingent from last year’s team that made the PAC semifinals and the second round of the District 1 playoffs. It’s a bit of a reboot as OJR turns to a more inexperienced unit that expects to be led by seniors Matt Pron and Graham Pugh, an All-Area selection who had the end of last season derailed by injury. Coach Eric Wentzel believes his team is in good shape in the midfield and on defense, but scoring remains a question mark outside of Pugh. “We have to find players that can score goals. Our offense must come together for us to be good,” Wentzel said. It remains to be seen if OJR can contend for the PAC title, but don’t expect it to be an easy out. “We have a young and inexperienced team that will fight every night,” Wentzel said.

Perkiomen Valley

Perkiomen Valley goalkeeper Andrew Daubenspeck. (DFM file)

Head coach: Bob McCabe, 21st season

Last year’s record: 5-6-2 PAC, 8-8-2 overall

Players to watch: Seniors Andrew Daubenspeck, GK; Jake Rogers, def.; Mike Weir, mid; Ryan Dao, mid.; Adam Styer, mid; Andrew Zielke, def. Juniors Matt McCabe, mid; Brian Love, mid.; Max Chamorro, fwd.; AJ Hansen, def.; Brian Holmes, def.; Sebastian Leyes, mid. Sophomores Declan Loughney, mid.; Alfredo Grimaldi, fwd.

Outlook: If there’s a team primed to make moves in 2017 it’s Perkiomen Valley. With 10 returning starters, including All-Area first team goalkeeper Andrew Daubenspeck and second team midfielder Michael Weir, ‘team chemistry and continuity is our greatest asset,” according to coach Bob McCabe. With the foundation set, Perk Valley should be a contender in the PAC and earn a trip to the District 1-AAAA playoffs. “Our main goal is simply to improve upon what we started last season while competing for a PAC Final Four playoff spot,” McCabe said. “Winning our division, winning a PAC championship, and qualifying for the District 1 playoffs are things we believe are within our reach, but we know it will take a lot of hard work to get there.”

Phoenixville

Head coach: Michael Cesarski, 4th season

Last year’s record: 8-4-1, 10-8-1 overall, District 1-AAA playoff qualifier (lost in first round to Radnor on penalties)

Players to watch: Seniors Danny Jackson, fwd./def.; Blake Ericksen, def.; Jared Carboy, mid./fwd.; Kyle Tucker, def.; Nick Sinapius, def./mid.; Tyler Siefer, def.

Outlook: It’s good news, bad news in some ways for the Phantoms. Phoenixville’s entire back four returns to give a dose of experience to a team that features 14 seniors. That group and the rest of the roster needs to fill the voids left by All-Area first team midfielder Phil Meszaros, forward Andre Souza and goalkeeper Mitchell Coll. Meszaros and Souza handled the bulk of the team’s scoring in 2016, meaning the team must find goals elsewhere in the squad. Nevertheless, the Phantoms have consistently contended with Pottsgrove atop the Frontier Division and that should remain this year. Head coach Michael Cesarski sees an opportunity: “We are hoping to have a strong season with the group of seniors we have. We have been working since last year ended and hope to reap the rewards of all that effort.”

Pope John Paul II

Head coach: Tom Csongradi, 4th season

Last year’s record: 5-8 PAC, 6-9-3 overall

Players to watch: Seniors Colin Flanegin, mid.; Michael Harty, fwd.; James Eichelman, def.; Nick Boyce, fwd.; Brett Leighton, def.; Christian Caiola, def. Juniors Zach Murtaugh, def.; AJ Williams, mid.; Salvy Marano, mid.; Chris Morgado, mid.; Calvin O’Neil, def.; John Wagner, GK; Matt Moroz, def. Sophomore David Lattanze, fwd. Freshmen Declan Kennedy, fwd./mid.; Josh Niziolek.

Outlook: Senior Colin Flanegin (All-Area honorable mention) returns to lead the line for Pope John Paul II, which looks to get back in contention in the PAC Frontier. The Golden Panthers will have a short bench (16-player varsity) but return half their starting lineup from a year ago. “We have 10 players coming back with decent experience at the varsity level (six starters) and have matured into the upperclassmen we know can lead and show the underclassmen the way,” coach Tom Csongradi said. In a wide open Frontier Division, the opportunity is there for PJP to take a step forward.

Pottsgrove

Head coach: Jay Witkowski, 14th season

Last year’s record: 11-1-1 PAC, 15-6-1 overall, PAC finalist, District 1-AAA semifinalist

Players to watch: Seniors Nate Kasper, def.; Ryan Long, GK. Juniors Mike Sereny, mid.; Charlie McAllister, def./mid. Sophomores Collin Deckert, mid.; Ethan Pace, fwd.

Outlook: The Falcons will barely be recognizable this season. Pottsgrove graduated a huge, accomplished senior class last year, one that previously led the team to a District 1-AA championship, and in 2016 reached the PAC championship game and the District 1-AAA semifinals. Fortunately, the program has historically maintained a strong level and is in good hands with veteran coach Jay Witkowski and his staff. “We will be a young team looking to build team chemistry after the loss of the largest senior class in program history,” Witkowski said. “We expect to remain competitive in the Frontier Division.” Beyond that is anyone’s guess.

Pottstown

Head coach: Manuel Paez, 2nd season

Last year’s record: 0-13 PAC, 0-16 overall

Players to watch: Seniors Chedid Schedid, fwd./mid.; Kentz Gustave, mid.; Emmanuel Toussaint, mid.; Alex Caballero, GK.

Outlook: The Trojans endured a winless campaign a year ago in Manuel Paez’s first season as head coach. But with only three seniors on last year’s roster, Pottstown hopes its offseason continuity can carry it into the win column this year on more than a few occasions.

Spring-Ford

Boyertown’s Ben Wise and Spring-Ford’s Ronnie Minges vie for a header during a game last fall. (Austin Hertzog – DFM)

Head coach: Brent Kissel, 2nd season

Last year’s record: 11-1-1 PAC, 12-6-2 overall, District 1-AAAA qualifier

Players to watch: Seniors Ronnie Minges, mid.; Nate Alban, fwd.; Aidan Mossip, def.; Cole Dampf, def.; Calvin Thomas, def.; Juniors Sal Ibarra, mid; Johnny Guimaraes, mid.

Outlook: The Rams will have had a full offseason to stew over the end of the 2016 season. Spring-Ford looked to be flying high after winning the PAC Liberty Division regular season title but was cooled off by red-hot Boyertown in the PAC semifinals and dropped their District 1 playoff opening game. “Our team does not want another abrupt end to their postseason goals this year,” coach Brent Kissel said. “We strive to continue building a program that encourages excellence in everything we do.” The Rams’ excellence begins with returning All-Area first team midfield playmaker Ronnie Minges, and extends to three returning defenders (Aidan Mossip, Cole Dampf, Calvin Thomas). Spring-Ford has the horses to have a similar regular season and a much better postseason in 2017.

Upper Merion

Head coach: Thomas Dodds, 24th season

Last year’s record: 6-5-2 PAC, 6-9-3 overall

Players to Watch: Junior Trevor Looby, mid. Sophomores Dylan Castillo, GK; Sam Tepe.

Outlook: Looby comes in off a great summer as part of the 2017 EPYSA ODP National Championship team. The Vikings are looking at a bit of a rebuilding year, but plan to remain competitive and should be in the mix in an up-for-grabs PAC Frontier Division.

Upper Perkiomen

Head coach: Kyle Fisher, 4th season

Last year’s record: 2-11 PAC, 2-15-1 overall

Players to watch: Seniors Ryan Casola, mid.; Jackson Lill, GK; Cameron Marshall, def.; Colby Hetrick, mid; Braeden Diehl, fwd./mid. Juniors Ian Costanzo, mid.; Tyler Raymond, mid./def.; Nick Mattson, def.; Steven White, fwd./def,

Outlook: Upper Perk appears better equipped to withstand the rigors of the season in 2017 by fielding a deeper roster than in recent years and coming in with a fresh bill of health after seeing six players suffer concussions in a fateful spell in 2016. “We will field a deeper team than in previous years but will need to stay disciplined if they expect to compete in every game this year,” coach Kyle Fisher said. Fisher is optimistic about his team’s chances to tack on a few more wins this campaign. “I’ve been very impressed with their conditioning and desire to perform at the highest level they can achieve. Players have shown improvement in each training session, and I’m truly excited to see where the season takes us.”

West-Mont Christian

Head coach: David Smith, 3rd season

Last year’s record: N/A, Tri-County League semifinalist

Players to watch: Senior John Hoffman, mid.

Outlook: West-Mont had a fair amount of turnover in the offseason with eight players graduating. Under third-year coach David Smith, midfielder John Hoffman leads the Wings’ charge as they seek a third straight appearance in the Tri-County League playoffs.

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