Reporter/Montgomery Boys Soccer 2015: Area teams taking on new looks

Soccer, perhaps more so than any other sport, can demonstrate how quickly the landscape can change.

Sure, there are always exceptions, but it’s not uncommon in the global game to see players loaned out, sold off or even changing teams within a season or two and managers changed on a whim. A high school career is finite and even longtime coaches eventually move on or call it a career.

Mark C Psoras--The Reporter  Pennridge High School Varsity Soccer members scrimmage against the junior varsity squad during a practice at the school on a hot and humid Wednesday afternoon September 2,2015
Pennridge High School varsity boys soccer members scrimmage against the junior varsity squad during a practice at the school on a hot and humid Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015. (Mark C Psoras/The Reporter)

Teams in The Reporter/Montgomery Media coverage area opened preseason camp Aug. 17 and many did so with a new look in key areas.

Perhaps the biggest change came on the sideline for Archbishop Wood. Longtime coach Joe Krantz retired in January and the reigns were handed to his veteran assistant Hugh Kelly. Krantz left his 30-year assistant in a good spot, as the Vikings won the Philadelphia Catholic League and District 12 titles and advanced to the second round of the PIAA Class AAA tournament.

Of course, standout senior Dave Bateman has moved on, but Wood has shown it can put a good product on the field year in and year out.

Another local PCL team with a strong soccer history has a new man at the helm with Tom McCaffrey stepping in at La Salle. McCaffrey is no stranger to the program, finishing his playing career in 2001 and has been a member of the coaching staff the past 10 years. The Explorers jump into a crowded mix of quality teams chasing Wood in the PCL, especially in the big classification.

While the team that Wood beat in the state playoffs, Wissahickon, has the same coach, the Trojans will have some new faces on the pitch. Stuart Malcolm must find a replacement for scoring dynamo Cole Kropnick along with Suburban One League American Conference first team selections Ryan Becker and Shane Fallen.

It’s a similar story for North Penn, where coach Paul Duddy has to replace several stalwarts. Drew McMenamin (defender), Kevin McKenna (forward) and Nick Miller (midfield) have moved on but the Knights bring back names like Kevin Shue, Jordan Katz and Mike Kohler.

Mark C Psoras--The Reporter  Pennridge High School Varsity Soccer members scrimmage against the junior varsity squad during a practice at the school on a hot and humid Wednesday afternoon September 2,2015
Pennridge High School varsity boys soccer members scrimmage against the junior varsity squad during a practice at the school on a hot and humid Wednesday,Sept. 2, 2015. (Mark C Psoras/The Reporter)

At Springfield Township, coach Dan Meder pushed all the right buttons with a special group that qualified for the District 1-AA playoffs and won a first round game before its season ended. The Spartans have some quality players back like forward Corey Cottone, Zach Harley and Juan Castro but they lose midfield engine Riley Woron and backline anchor Igor McVeagh among others.

Other teams are looking for a change in fortunes, hoping returning talent or newcomers can lead to more success this year. Christopher Dock made a surprise appearance in the District 1-A semifinals, but also returns a large core of players, meaning the Pioneers will be chasing a longer stay.

Meanwhile, teams like Pennridge, Hatboro-Horsham, Upper Dublin, Upper Moreland, Souderton and Cheltenham will be looking to crack the district playoff field.


2014: 18-3-3, PIAA AAA 2nd round, PCL title, District 12 title.

Outlook: Hugh Kelly takes over as head coach for the defending city champions who are also looking to replace star Dave Bateman. PCL teams play every other team in soccer, so the Vikings will get a number of quality tests throughout the season from the likes of Lansdale Catholic, Roman Catholic and La Salle. Kelly has been with the program for three decades and the players are familiar with him, so it should be a quick transition.


2014: 9-8, District 1-AAA playoffs

Outlook: The Galloping Ghosts were able to fight their way into the District I playoff field but will have to replicate that feat minus a few key players. Matt Tracey and Shane Munizza are both playing in college while goalkeeper Tim Seydel also graduated, leaving three big spots to fill in the starting lineup as all three were SOL all league picks. All league pick Connor Gallagher is back however.


2014: 8-6-2.

Outlook: It was a bit of an odd season for ANC, starting off successful then ending with a string of tough losses. As a positive, the Lions rarely lost by multiple goals, so they will be looking to turn those close losses into wins this season.


2014: 10-7-2, District 1-AAA playoffs.

Outlook: Despite a winning record, the Bucks were left looking in on the playoffs thanks to the power point system that decided the brackets. CB West did lose first team SOL Continental goalkeeper Daniel Merritt to graduation, but the Bucks have some talent back. Jack Tilley and Brandon Morris can be centerpiece players in the midfield and attack respectively and if the Bucks can fill in their openings, they could crack through into the postseason.


2014: 9-10, District 1-A semifinals.

Christopher Dock's Jesse Kolb ,21, heads a ball past Calvary Christian Academy goalie ,00, ,the goal was disallowed during first half action of their contest at Christopher Dock Mennonite High School on Wednesday October 8,2014. Photo by Mark C Psoras/The Reporter
Christopher Dock’s Jesse Kolb (21) heads a ball past Calvary Christian Academy’s goalie, but,the goal was disallowed during first half action of their contest on Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014. (Mark C Psoras/The Reporter)

Outlook: Entering the playoffs as the seventh seed, Dock pulled a surprise upset in the first round and took second see New Hope-Solebury to the limits before falling 2-1. It doesn’t appear to be a flash in the pan run for Dock either, as key contributors like Sergey Curtis, Jesse Kolb and sophomore striker Austin Kratz are back in the fold for the BAL side.


2014: 9-7-2.

Outlook: The 2014 SOL American conference saw plenty of parity and for the senior-laden Panthers, it wasn’t enough to get them into the playoff field. There could be some early bumps for a squad looking to replace all conference picks Abe Austin, Owen Deitcher and Gene Han. Getting it together quickly will be key if Cheltenham wants a say in the American race.


2014: 11-3, District 1-A semifinals.

Outlook: Faith’s season came to a cruel end in a penalty kick loss to Plumstead Chrisitian in the District I semifinals. Senior forward Cole Adams is the biggest loss, but Faith is in good shape heading into the season with BAL all conference picks Michael Pearson, Blake Meyers, Zac Hambleton and Eddie DiPietro all back for at least one more run.


2014: 6-10-5.

Outlook: The Patriots again face a daunting schedule that features two dates with the Haverford School, two against Malvern Prep and two with Springside Chestnut Hill. As well, Lansdale Catholic and Christopher Dock are on GA’s docket this season.


2014: 4-12-2.

Outlook: Eduardo Romero returns off an all league pick to lead a Hatters team looking for a rebound season. Sophomores Danny Harmon and Colin Bateman will be looked at to play key roles. Coach Kyle McGrath will also look to his seniors to help the Hatters climb in the SOL Continental.


2014: 13-6-2, District 12 AA champion, PIAA 1st round.

Outlook: The Crusaders backed up their strong 2013 season with a second straight District 12 title and a good record in the loaded PCL. A well balanced group, LC will get plenty of tests in league play as it guns for a third straight district title and extended run in states.


2014: 11-5-2.

Outlook: Another PCL team with a new coach, Tom McCaffrey takes over the storied program. With a good mix of seniors and juniors, the Explorers will look to claim their first PCL and District 12 titles since 2012 and in turn, earn a bid back to states.


2014: 9-7-2, District 1-AA semifinal.

Outlook: BAL all-league pick Jake Fazio returns for the Lions, bringing plenty of intensity and energy to the field. While Lower Moreland must replace a few seniors like all league pick Phil Madden, this team finds a way to have a say in the BAL race every season.

North Penn's Mike Kohler ,8, races past Central Bucks West defenders enroute to his game winning goal in overtime of their playoff contest at North Penn High School. Thursday,  October 23, 2014.   Photo by Mark C Psoras/The Reporter
North Penn’s Mike Kohler (8) races past Central Bucks West defenders en route to his game-winning goal in overtime of their playoff contest at North Penn High School on Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014. (Mark C Psoras/The Reporter)


2014: 16-4, District 1-AAA second round.

Outlook: The Knights look poised to continue their success under coach Paul Duddy again this season. While stalwarts Drew McMenamin, Kevin McKenna and Nick Miller graduated, there’s plenty of talent still on this roster. Goalkeeper Jordan Katz, defender Kyle Shue and junior forward Mike Kohler return looking to advance further in districts.


2014: 2-9-7.

Outlook: The Rams had more than a fair share of tough luck in 2014, drawing seven times. Goalkeeper Brody Giblin and midfielder Cameron Sheva headline the returnees under coach Dan Vallimont, who believes his group is ready to break through. Finding offense will be critical for this team if wants to reverse field and make a postseason push.


2014: 8-7-3.

Souderton's John O'Keefe struggles to control the ball under pressure from North Penn's Mike Kohler, left, and Owen Nakatani Monday, Oct. 13, 2014. Bob Raines-The Reporter
Souderton’s John O’Keefe struggles to control the ball under pressure from North Penn’s Mike Kohler, left, and Owen Nakatani during their game on Monday, Oct. 13, 2014. (Bob Raines/Montgomery Media)

Outlook: Big Red was in the hunt for a playoff spot into the final week of the season but ultimately fell short of that goal. But third-year coach Matt Benner had his team trending in the right direction and they gave their conference foes a tough match every time out. Seniors Nate Verso, Kevin Dustin, John O’Keefe and junior Nick Marculo lead Souderton this season.


2014: 10-7-2, District 1-AA semifinals.

Outlook: While the Spartans lose some key pieces like midfield engine Riley Woron and defenders Sasha and Igor McVeagh, there’s plenty back. Unfortunately projected goalkeeper Kevin Sykes was lost for the year due to injury but seniors Corey Cottone and Colin Criniti will captain the team and juniors Zach Harley and Mike Bonacci will be called upon as well.


2014: 8-7-3.

Outlook: It was a transition year for the Flying Cardinals, who mixed some good results with inconsistency. Still, they finished the season well and stayed in the pack in the SOL American. Justin Greene and Jake Woodruff return as seniors off of second team all conference picks.


2014: 0-13-4.

Rundown: It was a tough campaign for the Golden Bears with numerous injuries keeping key players off the pitch. Goalkeeper Conor O’Hagen battled through injury to an honorable mention all league nod, but was lost to graduation. Junior Ryan Lowry returns with all league honors to his name as Upper Moreland seeks a quick rebuild.


2014: 9-9.

Outlook: Tennent missed out on the District 1 playoff cut last season while remaining in the thick of SOL National play. Senior Connor Weiss returns off a first team all conference pick along with senior Stephen Testa, though the Panthers will have to replace Jason Knox, Dan Miller and Nick Clark.


2014: 18-5, District 1-AAA 4th place, PIAA 1st round.

Outlook: When the Trojans took the pitch in 2014, it seemed something great was going to happen. Despite falling to Archbishop Wood on PKs in the state playoffs, Wissahickon still accomplished plenty. However, it will be a new look this year as the senior heavy roster turned over. Gone is scoring machine Cole Kropnick, along with stalwarts Ryan Becker, Shane Fallen, Alec Schwartz, and goalkeeper John Carrozza. But, Alex Escude, Tom McHale and Sam Hunt are back to form a new foundation.

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