FAIRLESS HILLS – Coming off a 5-0 loss to Suburban One League (SOL) rival William Tennent on Tuesday, Sept. 5, visiting Roman Catholic was looking to right the ship in Thursday’s league opener with Philadelphia Catholic League (PCL) rival Conwell-Egan Catholic (CEC).
The Cahillites did all that and more, outpacing the Eagles, 7-0 Sept. 7 on their way to their first shutout win of the season.
“We thought we could hold our own and we did for the first 30 minutes,” said CEC senior co-captain Stephen Konnovitch. “Things just kind of fell apart after that.
“We let in one (goal) in the beginning; it was a good part on their part. But we held our own on the defense and then we just lost our focus heading into the end of the first half.”
PCL finalists last year and league champions in 2015, Roman was sparked by a pair of goals by senior Jared Fielding, who staked his team to an early 2-0 lead on a goal scored off a feed by sophomore Sebastion Gonzalez in the fourth minute and another tallied off a feed from junior Jared Dillon –who also scored a goal of his own with four minutes left in the first half – in the 28th minute.
The Cahillites – who scored three times in the last six minutes of the first half – also got goals before the intermission from junior Eric Williams and senior Nate Lindner to go into the half, up 5-0. The goals by Williams and Lindner came 20 seconds apart.
“Mentally, we just need to get better, work harder at practice and eliminate those mistakes,” said Konnovitch. “You can see how a good Catholic League team will pounce on them, just like that.”
After the break, sophomore Kevin Davis scored from the left side flat off a feed from Williams and sophomore Josh Phillips scored on a header off a corner kick from Davis.
RC sophomores Kevin Tobin (first half) and John Nelson combined on the shutout for Roman. Junior Josh Anderson – a first-year varsity keeper for the Eagles – stood tall in goal with nine saves for Conwell-Egan.
After winning just two games last year (one in the PCL), Conwell-Egan returns to the field in 2017 without the services of All-Catholic Forward Matt Costanzo and goalkeeper Stephen Carroll. Both starters in 2016, they graduated in June.
In goal for CEC this season is Anderson, who comes to the team with plenty of experience at Hulmeville Soccer Club. Returning to the lineup to solidify the Eagle defense are senior Jack Barreras and junior Tyler Lieby. First-year starters on defense include juniors Hunter Garland and Brett Adrian.
Shoring up the midfield this year at Egan are Konnovitch and junior co-captain Brendan Held, on the defensive side of the middle along with juniors Doug Perks and Trevor Dykes, on the attacking side of things. Classmates Ed Long – who only recently transferred from Council Rock North – and Paul Lieble are stationed up top for CEC.
“Right now, we’re just looking for something that works,” said Konnovitch. “We tried out a lot of formations in this game. We started out in a 4-2 but we switched to a 3-1.
“At this point, we’re just looking for something that brings out the best in every player.”
Last year, injuries to defender Kevin Blair and Costanzo forced the Eagles to play with five sophomores in the starting lineup. Both Blair and Costanzo sustained concussions with Blair’s injury keeping him from playing most of the season.
“We had a lot of inexperienced players last year – a lot of sophomores that turned into juniors this year,” explained Konnovitch.
“They’re gaining a little more experience this year but the PCL pace comes at them so fast, sometimes they’re just left not knowing what to do.
“We gotta work on that, definitely.”
Egan’s next league test is Tuesday, Sept. 12 at home vs. Bonner-Prendergast and the Eagles face Archbishop Wood (Sept. 15), Archbishop Ryan (9-19), Archbishop Carroll (9-22), LaSalle (9-26) and Lansdale Catholic (9-29) before the end of this month.
“We lack a lot of club players and we have a lot of in-house guys,” said head coach Barry Roxberry. “Because of that, we lack a lot of ball sense and we hesitate.
“I’m glad we had Roman early to learn from this. Maybe against Bonner, we’ll be able to pick up our game a little bit.”
According to Roxberry, there are several freshmen on the JV team that are club players.
“I’m hoping we can use this year to build and learn, take some of those freshmen and combine them with these juniors, who will have another year of experience by then.”
The coach is not sure about CEC’s ability to compete against powerhouse teams such as Judge, LaSalle, Wood or Ryan but he hopes his Eagles are able to steal a few wins against teams such as Lansdale Catholic, Bishop McDevitt, Bonner-Prendergast, Cardinal O’Hara, and Archbishop Carroll.
“We have to look to the captains – me, Paul, Brendan and Jack – to really just step up and reach our full potential, try to get this team some wins,” said Konnovitch.
Conwell-Egan opened the season Sept. 1 in a 5-0 loss at Lower Moreland. The Eagles posted their only win of the season Sept. 5 at Philadelphia Public League rival George Washington. Deadlocked in a scoreless draw at the half, Lieble tallied two minutes after the break on a pass from Perks and Lieby added an insurance goal three minutes later on a penalty kick.
Roman Catholic 7, Conwell-Egan 0
(Sept. 7 at Conwell-Egan
ROMAN (2-1, 1-0: PCL) 5 2 – 7
CEC (1-2, 0-1: PCL) 1 1 – 2
GOALS: RC — Jared Fielding 2, Jared Dillon, Eric Williams, Nate Lindner, Kevin Davis, Josh Phillips; CE — none.
ASSISTS: RC — Sebastion Gonzalez, Dillon, Kieran Donnelly 2, Williams, Davis; CE — none.
SHOTS: RC — 16, CE — 2.
SAVES: Kevin Tobin (RC) 1, John Nelson (RC) 1; Josh Anderson (CE) 9.