The Main Line high school boys’ soccer scene features a number of squads coming off strong 2017 campaigns, particularly in the Central League, with two-time defending PIAA Class AAAA state champion Conestoga, Lower Merion, Harriton, Radnor and Haverford High. In the Inter-Ac, Episcopal Academy and Malvern are coming off winning seasons, and Haverford School has a new coach. In the Friends’ Schools League, FSL defending champion Shipley and Friends’ Central look to battle for the top spot once again.
Here’s a beginning-of-the-season look at the Main Line high school boys’ soccer squads as they shape up this fall:
Head coach: David Zimmerman, 17th year.
Last year’s record: 25-0-1 overall, 11-0 Central League (champions), PIAA District One champions, PIAA Class AAAA state champions (back-to-back).
Key returnees: senior goalie Luke Smith, senior defender Ryan Davis, senior midfielder Jason Ivey, senior forward Julian Niggeman, senior defender Jack Murphy, senior forward Matt Rossi, senior forward Alyan Youssaf.
Others to watch: junior midfielder Nate Xu, junior midfielder Matt Doble.
Team’s strengths: Zimmerman said, “The main strengths of this season’s roster will be its depth and goalkeeping.”
Outlook: After winning back-to-back PIAA state championships and graduating two All-American players, Zimmerman sees the challenges for the 2018 version of the Pioneers as two-fold. “First, we have to avoid the inevitable letdown that seems to haunt teams that find success the previous year,” said Zimmerman. “Second, the question becomes, who will replace the high end talent that carried the team to two state championships. The key to our success will be getting meaningful contributions from many players this season. And we need to play together and win as a team.”
Head coach: Brian McKinney, second year.
Last year’s record: 9-8-1 overall.
Key returnees: senior forward Nick Bello, senior forward Connor Kelly, senior defender Alex Furtek, junior defender Aidan Ringiewicz.
Team’s strengths: The Tide features a potent attack with Nick Bello (27 goals last year, 47 career) and Connor Kelly.
Outlook: “We are excited to be facing new challenges in our first year in the Philadelphia Catholic League,” said McKinney.
Head coach: David Knox, 10th year.
Last year’s record: 21-3-3 overall, 6-2-2 InterAc (second place for the third consecutive year).
Key returnees: senior forward Samuel Wilson, senior midfielder Harrison Malone, junior goalie Trevor Manion, senior midfielder Gabrielle Furey, senior forward Jack Pacera.
Others to watch: senior defender Nate Hunter, senior midfielder Rowan Brumbaugh, sophomore defender Adam Archambault.
Team’s strengths: According to Knox, “Team unity and togetherness combined with a positive attacking style and a willingness to do whatever it takes.”
Outlook: “Our challenge is to stay healthy for the duration of the season,” said Knox. “Our key to success is strong senior leadership, robust defense and an attacking and attractive style of play.”
Head coach: Galen Guindon, seventh year.
Last year’s record: 5-10-3 overall, 5-2-1 Friends’ Schools League.
Key returnees: senior midfielder Max Cohen, senior defender Mason Davis, senior forward Ingram Dillingham, senior forward Miles Johnson, senior midfielder Carson Lonner, senior midfielder Lucas McGrann, senior defender Liam Sullivan.
Others to watch: sophomore midfielder Jared Lonner, sophomore defender Eric Lillard.
Outlook: Guindon said, “We will rely on our core of experienced seniors that make up the spine of the team. Mason Davis and Liam Sullivan will anchor the defense while Carson Lonner and Max Cohen look to control the pace of the game in the midfield. Senior forwards Miles Johnson and Ingram Dillingham need to create and produce goals upfront for this balanced team to reach its potential. If we can stay healthy and commit to this team’s style of play, we will look to challenge for the FSL title come November.”
Head coach: Biff Sturla, 17th year.
Last year’s record: 14-8 overall, 6-5 Central League, advanced to District 1 AAA championship finals.
Key returnees: senior striker and second-year captain Alex Kades (all-state, All-Central League, two-time team MVP, Penn commit); senior center midfielder and captain Evan Tracy (All-Central League), senior outside midfielder and captain Justin Nachman; junior center midfielder Mikkel Andersen.
Others to watch: junior midfielder/defender Owen Luby, junior striker/midfielder Diego Toffani, junior striker Gibreel Mami.
Team strengths: Sturla said, “We have lots of offense back, and many players who can score. We have many creative midfielders who can set up goals.”
Outlook: “We lost both goalies and we lost every defender from last year’s run to the state playoffs,” said Sturla. “We also graduated Serhat Sakarcan, who had 10 goals and eight assists in only 10 games. We need to put together a completely new defense. There are many players in the mix to start at defense, time will tell who wins out and gets into the starting lineup on defense and in goal.”
Head coach: Dave Cassanelli, third year.
Last year’s record: 10-7-1 overall, 5-6 Central League.
Key returnees: senior forward Cam Morse, senior forward Will Gardner, junior midfielder Aidan Tripler, senior midfielder Alex Reardon, senior midfielder Marc Mays, senior goalie Cole Gillespie, junior defender Trey Emeno.
Others to watch: sophomore midfielder Duncan Riegler, junior midfielder Evan Carfrey, senior defender Zach Signorello, senior forward Sammy Ortiz, junior defender Declan Sminkey.
Team’s strengths: “We have the majority of our midfield and forwards returning,” said Cassanelli. “They are experienced and should provide a dangerous attack. This is a tight-knit group with strong upperclassmen leadership.”
Outlook: “Keeping the zero in our net will be something we want to focus on,” said Cassanelli. “Good communication and leadership coming out the back will be key. We have talent in the attacking third and depth all over the field. The Central League is always challenging with the back-to-back PIAA state champ Conestoga at the top of it. We’re still searching for a real breakout season at Haverford High.”
Head coach: Dan Keefe, first year.
Last year’s record: 8-9-4 overall, 3-5-2 InterAc.
Key returnees: senior defender Griffin Wada (University of Chicago commit), senior midfielder Will Micheletti (Franklin and Marshall commit), senior midfielder Nicholas Pippis.
Others to watch: junior goalie Will Boyes, junior defender Luke Macaione, junior defender MJ Atkins, junior defender Mitchell Hark.
Outlook: Keefe, who served as an assistant to Haverford School head coach for the last seven years, said, “Our defense is physical, reads the game well, and plays with pace. Will Boyes has the ability to make key saves and the ability to organize the defense in front of him. Our counter attack has pace on the wings and up top, which should be a difficult matchup for teams. We have a difficult schedule with games against national powerhouses McDonough and South Kent, and local rivals Shipley and Conestoga which should provide early challenges as the team adjusts to new coaches and some tweaks to the old system.”
Head coach: Nico Severini, ninth year.
Last year’s record: 17-4.
Key returnees: senior striker Harrison Bloch, senior midfielder Isaac Brainsky, senior midfielder Tim O’Hare, senior defender Ethan Blouin, senior defender Shane Boyer, senior midfielder Wyatt Joseph, senior striker Cole Sanchez..
Lost to graduation: midfielder Max Shapiro and goalie Sebastian Connelly.
Outlook: Severini said, “We will return a few key players but have to fill in several starting positions. Our philosophy is having a united team and play for each other, Team Together, in everything we do. There are many things that we can’t control in the course of a season, but our focus is to control every little aspect that we can. Nothing compares to the camaraderie and lifelong friendships and memories that high school soccer creates.”
Head coach: Andrew Kummerer, fourth year.
Last year’s record: 10-7-3 overall, 5-5 Inter-Ac.
Key returnees: senior forward Matt Lamond, senior defender Zach Hurchalla, senior midfielder Logan Cattie, senior defender Kellen Fitzgerald.
Others to watch: junior defender Kieran Barr, junior defender Ethan Kogut.
Team’s strengths: Kummerer said, “We return four defensive starters and have excellent goalkeeping depth.”
Outlook: “Our key to success will be new varsity players gaining experience and adapting to the physical nature of the Inter-Ac. Our biggest challenge will be finding a dynamic goal scorer to take the pressure off of our defense.”
Head coach: Joe Caruolo, seventh year.
Last year’s record: 12-4-3 overall, 9-2 Central League (third place).
Key returnees: senior goalies Nate Congleton and Henry Cooke, senior midfielder/forward Ben Verbofsky, junior midfielder/forward Ben Engstrom, senior midfielder Eliot Hayes.
Others to watch: junior forward Bobby Hydrisko, senior defender Evan Majerack, senior midfielder Bobby Kirsch, senior mdfielder Peter Miller.
Outlook: Caruolo sees his team’s biggest strengths as the ability to play two-touch soccer and posses the ball in the midfield. “Our biggest key to success this year is to fill the gap left by the graduation of Ryan Peter (who scored 17 goals last year),” said Caruolo. “Although our ability to maintain possession in some games will improve, putting the ball in the back of net consistently will remain a challenge. We’re excited to rise to the challenge and have different players step up during different times.”
Head coach: Thomas Schauerman, 13th year.
Last year’s record: 8-8-3 overall, 8-1-2 Friends’ Schools League (champions).
Key returnees: senior midfielder Johnny Lenart, senior midfielder Jude Corr, junior midfielder Jimmy Fallon, junior defender Declan Buckley, junior defender Brian McDaid, junior midfielder Umar Savinson, sophomore midfielder Jonathon Parsons, sophomore defender AJ Piscopo, senior forward Oscar Southwell, junior midfielder Ryan Kaliner, senior defender Zach Madeksza, senior forward Matt Field.
Others to watch: freshman midfielder Jamie Lenart, junior goalie Dean Manor, sophomore goalie Josh Gallia, sophomore forward Cameron Long, junior defender Henry Reed, junior defender Cole Kelton, sophomore midfielder Ethan Massey, junior midfielder Jordan Kaliner, freshman defender Jack Gillan.
Outlook: Schauerman said, “We have a strong attacking group of upperclassmen, and a lot of players who can play in multiple positions. We are very balanced with returning players and strong players who are new to the varsity roster. Our key to success this season will be finding the right system of play sooner than later, and putting the right combinations of players on the field.”