Plymouth Whitemarsh boys soccer young, but motivated

WHITEMARSH >> When Plymouth Whitemarsh boys soccer fans show up to the season opener on Sept. 4 against Quakertown, they might think they are in the wrong place. Don’t walk away, that’s still PW, just with a plethora of new faces.

The Colonials team that went 18-3 a year ago and won back-to-back Suburban One League American Conference titles graduated 17 seniors, leaving plenty of holes to be filled by new players in 2015.

Despite the roster turnover and potential for two freshman and three or four sophomores to be in the starting lineup, head coach Devon Landgraff still has high expectations for his team.

“We lose a little size and physicality,” he said after the team’s second day of practice Tuesday, “but (this team has) a lot of technical skill, which I think is going to get us right back to where we were — in contention for another conference title, hopefully another district playoff berth and even further into districts.”

Last season ended for PW with a 2-1 overtime loss in the third round of district playoffs against Central Bucks East.

“I’ve waited a really long time to come back,” senior Austin Betterly said. “That loss to CB East stuck with me this whole time and I’m happy to be back here.

“A lot of the seniors and kids who are still on varsity still remember that loss. We want to get back to the place we were.”

Betterly will be key to the Colonials success this year. Heading into his fourth varsity season, the midfielder earned first team all SOL American honors last season.

“He is a goal-scorer,” Landgraff said of Betterly. “He has developed and transformed his game from primarily just a forward to a more dynamic, attacking center-mid. He can play on the wing, he can play in the middle, he can defend — he can do it all.

“He could get right back to where he was last year and be our leading scorer, even maybe be the leading scorer in the conference. More importantly he’s going to be a leader on the field in all regards. Even if his goal production isn’t there, he’s going to lead in other ways.”

The leadership role is something that Betterly has been looking forward to having.

“We’re going to have a lot of young kids on the team this year,” he said. “I would hope that me and a lot of the other seniors can help everyone learn PW soccer and keep the dynasty going.”

On the back end, the Colonials will be looking to replace a number of starters, including two defenders who went on to play at Philadelphia University and a goaltender who is at Neumann University.

“We’re going to be young in the back, but… (Dillon Johnson), who started last year on the outside is now going to push in,” Landgraff said, before adding that the junior is big, strong and athletic enough to make the transition quickly.

The Colonials have two seniors jockeying for the starting goalie position.

With a few weeks remaining before the season kicks off, there is time to instill the “PW way” into the younger players and get the team ready to make a run at a third straight league title.

“The PW way — we’re hard-working,” Betterly said. “We’re scrappy. A couple years ago we weren’t top of the league, we weren’t expected to make playoffs and all that stuff, but now — this new era — we’ve kept our hard-working and really gritty mentality, but we’re starting to be a better soccer team, not just athletes.”


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