DOWNINGTOWN – Closing in on the school’s first ever Ches-Mont boys’ soccer title, Bishop Shanahan can ill afford to look past anybody. And it’s especially true against Sun Valley, who has given the Eagles trouble in the past.
“Last year, our loss to Sun Valley cost us home field advantage in the playoffs, and the year prior, we drew against them on Senior Night,” said Shanahan head coach Jim Kalavik.
With all of that in mind, The Eagles took care of business on Tuesday at Jack Mancini Field, blanking the visiting Vanguards, 5-0, to set the stage for Thursday’s regular season finale at West Chester Rustin. A win there would assure no worse than a share of the Ches-Mont crown, as the Eagles (14-3 overall) are currently tied for first place with the defending champs from West Chester Henderson at 10-2.
“It’s definitely something we are focusing on,” acknowledged senior captain Harrison Coron. “We want to get that done first, then see how far we can go in districts and finally make a run at states.”
A win against the Golden Knights (7-3-1) would also go a long way toward helping Shanahan secure a second seed in the upcoming District 1 Class 3A Playoffs. Holy Ghost Prep has presumably already locked down the top seed.
“(Shanahan) moves the ball pretty well,” said Sun Valley head coach Bob Chambers. “They are a tough team. They should do well in the playoffs.
“We have given them some trouble the past few years. Today we played hard until the end. We didn’t give up any outstanding goals. It was just kind of a deflection here or there.”
Kalavik added: “We were just looking to come out strong because we are fighting for that second seed in the districts and a Ches-Mont championship.”
Overall, the Eagles had a 14-3 edge in shots on goal against Sun Valley (1-10-1, 4-12-1 overall). But things didn’t go exactly as planned in the opening 10 minutes as the Eagles had some issues getting into gear.
But not long after Kalavik yelled: ‘wake up white,’ Coron opened the scoring with a hustle goal just over 11 minutes in. He reigned in a lead pass from teammate Matt Ziegler that nearly went over the end line, then brought it back and angled it in.
Less than eight minutes later, Shanahan had added two more goals to take command. Junior Alex Frank scored off a corner kick by Ziegler, and then Franks delivered a pass to his older brother Jake Frank, who scored on a header.
“Sometimes we come out flat and it takes time to get things rolling,” Coron said.
“We have a tendency sometimes to not play our game plan,” Kalavik added. “I just wanted to make sure we got focused on our shape out there and moved the ball as we planned.”
The Eagles scored two more times in the second half, with the first coming on a perfect lead pass from Shimon Hilton to Nick Krause. The final goal was by Gavin Domsohn off an assist by Coron.
“We didn’t want to have the mindset that this was against a lower-seeded opponent,” Coron explained. “We wanted to come out fast, move the ball quick and then attack.
“Finding the back of the net (Tuesday) will help on Thursday against Rustin. We are confident in ourselves but we don’t want to get overconfident. We do know that if we play our best, there aren’t too many teams that can stop us.”
Backup goaltender Will Dolan filled in for Austin Coron and registered the shutout. Kalavik also substituted freely throughout.
“Dolan is an excellent goalkeeper,” he said. “We want to make sure he is getting reps because at the end of the day if we get into the playoffs and somebody gets injured or there is a card or something like that, we have to make sure that he is ready to go.”
Now just 80 minutes of soccer away from a Ches-Mont championship, Shanahan is confident.
“This is a very strong group and we think we can do something special this season,” Harrison Coron said.
“The three goals every season is a league title, a district title and a state title,” Kalavik pointed out. “Bishop Shanahan’s never won a Ches-Mont championship in boys’ soccer, so we would like to hang that banner.
“This is a great group of kids. If anything, I don’t want to over-coach them. I let them do their thing. When we play as a team and stick to the game plan, we play very well.”
Bishop Shanahan 5, Sun Valley 0
Sun Valley 0 0 –0
Bishop Shanahan 3 2 — 5
Bishop Shanahan goals: H. Coron, A. Frank, J. Frank, Krause, Domsohn.
Goalie saves: Segool (SV) 9; Dolan (BS) 3.