Numbers add up to playoff berth for Garnet Valley

Absent a busy week on the field, Garnet Valley boys soccer coach James Wallace occupied himself in a more unconventional manner during the last few days of the regular season.
“I think I’ve done more math this week than I’ve done in my whole life,” he said.
All the calculations and forecasting bore fruit Sunday, with Wallace’s Jaguars qualifying for their first District One Class AAA playoffs since 2007, earning the No. 26 seed in the 28-team field.
That sets up a date with No. 7 Abington in Tuesday’s first round, tentatively scheduled for 3 p.m. at Abington Memorial Field.
Joining Garnet Valley (9-7-2) in scraping into the boys field is Penn Wood (11-5-2), who garnered the 28th seed and head to No. 5 Owen J. Roberts. They narrowly edged fellow Del Val co-champ Interboro, who finished 29th.
Earning one of the three byes in the boys field is Springfield (13-3-2), which claimed the No. 3 seed. The Cougars await the winner of No. 14 Marple Newtown (14-4) vs. No. 19 Central Bucks West in Thursday’s second round.
Rounding out the six Delco teams in the boys field are Radnor (10-6-2), the 18th seed which ventures Tuesday to No. 15 Council Rock North, and No. 25 Strath Haven (9-8-1), which heads to No. 8 North Penn.
Fellow Central League squads Harriton (13 seed) and Conestoga (2) also find themselves in the field. Four teams advance to the PIAA tournament.
Wallace isn’t over the moon with joy as the brackets remain tentative, and you might recall that the fields were scrapped and recalculated last fall. Still, Wallace derives satisfaction from his team accomplishing one of its prime objectives this season, against long odds. They needed to finish the season on a four-game winning streak after starting 3-5-1, as low as 44th in the rankings.
“We always talk about goal-setting at the start of the season, and being in the playoffs was definitely one of them,” Wallace said.
The Jags started last week wondering what could be off of Wallace’s back-of-the-envelope math. By Tuesday, Wallace said the players were into it, bringing back their breakdowns of games around the district. They also had Thursday’s test against Chichester, which they aced 10-1, that couldn’t be overlooked lest they render all the tabulations moot.
“I told them we have to focus,” Wallace said. “All the excitement goes out the window if we don’t take care of business Thursday.”
The only other boys team to qualify for the postseason is The Christian Academy, in its first year in the PIAA. They garnered the No. 4 seed in Class A, hosting No. 5 Christopher Dock in a quarterfinal Wednesday.


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