Abington has season to remember

The final scoreline of the 2015 Abington boys’ soccer team will always stand as a 4-0 loss at Conestoga in the District I quarterfinals.
But simply looking at that one-sided result doesn’t tell how a team, led by a huge senior class, made it a season to remember. The Galloping Ghosts weren’t flashy or high-scoring, but they kept finding ways to get the job done.
It was the type of season where a collection of individuals came together as one cohesive unit and played for a common goal. That approach led to a 16-5 record and a surprise run to an SOL National title, the program’s first conference championship since 1996.
“A lot of people don’t think of Abington as a soccer town,” senior midfielder Jason Gales said after the second-round district win over Upper Dublin. “The 2012 (district champion) team told us that we could do big things and we looked up to them. Now we’re here, and want to make the most of it.”
The 2012 group was much like the 2015 team, a senior-oriented squad that played its best soccer in the last weeks of the season. This year, the Ghosts were a tough, hard-nosed team that made life difficult for opponents with a high-pressure alignment.
Egos were pushed to the side early in the season when Abington discovered it could have success by playing together. Having 16 seniors on the roster certainly helped meet that end. Most of the players have been friends and teammates for years, so there wasn’t much push when it came time to give up some individual goals.
“We’ve been playing with each other since we were little kids and our chemistry is so strong,” senior midfielder Conor Gallagher said. “We all know how we play and what every player can do with their skills.”
The Ghosts started out well enough and hung around the district playoff picture, but truly got things going in the last weeks of the season. A 3-0 win over CB South, then ranked in the top 15 of the power ratings, jump-started Abington’s charge to a district title.
Abington went on to win four games that week. A bit more than halfway through the third one, the Ghosts rock in net, Sam Wells, went down with an injury. He tried to keep going but he couldn’t.
Up off the bench, wearing his teammates’ green jersey, came senior Brian Hoover. Hoover made eight second half saves against William Tennent in a 2-1 come-from-behind win. Without those three points, Abington doesn’t win the conference title, but just as importantly, it got the team to believe.
“I don’t know if we understood the magnitude of that South win when we actually won it,” Hoover said that night. “I think it’s starting to come into focus how good of a team we are. I don’t think we knew how highly respected they were before the game but now we all realize that helped us out a lot.”
Wells returned after the next game and went right back to work making boatloads of saves. The senior keeper certainly played worthy of all-league consideration and seemed to come up with at least one game-saver each time out.
Abington’s back line was likewise anchored by seniors with Jake Katro and Aidan Coyle manning the middle. The Ghosts were big on giving credit to their teammates after every game and the two most common names to come up were Gales and Coyle.
Coyle, also a capable baseball player, was a rangy sweeper that gave up a few inches in height but nothing in terms of tenacity. Also an accurate dead-ball specialist, Coyle was content to stay back, clean up the back and let his teammates get the goals.
“Every ball back there, I feel safe because he’s going to come sweep it out,” forward Matt Bachman said.
Coyle, like the others, was also well-aware of what kept the team together.
“Our team wouldn’t have been the same without our spirit on the bench,” Coyle said. “Especially Alex Vitek, he really supports us, gets everyone going and gets us pumped up.”
The team’s second round district game might have been the most emblematic of its season. While regular season wins against CB South, Council Rock North and Pennsbury were bigger on the radar, the game against UD was a tenacious effort that saw the Ghosts take the Cardinals out of their comfort zone and turn the game into a grind.
When coach Randy Garber gathers his team for spring workouts and again in preseason next summer, it will have decidedly different look. Nearly every position will have a new face manning it, with current junior Juan Castillo one of the few holdovers. But if Garber has proven one thing in his time at Abington, it’s that he can whip a team into competitive shape in little time.
It will be a new team, but if the young guys on the roster and the JV players can take anything from this year’s group, the secret to success really isn’t all that hard.
“We all like each other,” senior reserve Robbie Durham said. “We love being around each other.”

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