Royersford – Shortly after Harriton’s 3-0 loss to SpringFord in the opening round of the PIAA District One Class 4A playoffs, the Rams consoled their lone senior, Morgan Rees, following her final high school game before glancing towards the future.
“I am so happy how this season ended even though we lost,” said Rees, who finished her career as the school’s all-time leading scorer for goals in a season (23) and goals in a career (48). “Of course I wanted to go on (to the next round) but I am really happy how we played throughout the season. I know they are going to get a good class of freshmen and they are going to continue to raise their level of play.”
“We have a lot of areas to grow as a team and program,” said Harriton head coach Jeff Rhodes. “Although we only have to replace one senior (Rees), she will be greatly missed. You can’t replace her, but at the same time it will give some of the younger players an opportunity to step up.”
Going into the season having to replace six seniors along with Filippa Graneld, who moved back to Sweden, Coach Jeff Rhodes had his work cut out. Returning his leading scorer Morgan Rees, Rhodes knew that being competitive would require a total team effort.
Realizing patience would be key, Rhodes showed continued confidence in a group that continued to grow as a team. Despite having trouble early in the season finding consistency the team stuck together throughout which was the key reason for winning five of their final seven games to allow them to clinch the final spot in the PIAA District One Class 4A playoffs.
“We had a very young and inexperienced team so making the playoffs shows they worked hard together and connected on and off the field,” said Rhodes. “We were a family and it showed by the way they worked for each other throughout the season.”
“This year was definitely a growing year,” said Harriton junior central defender Reilly Short. “We started out slow but picked it up at the end of the season. Of course we all really wanted to continue on for Morgan. She had a great season and deserved to keep going but unfortunately this one (vs. Spring Ford on Oct. 24) got away from us. But we’ll be back next season and it’s good to know we’ll have a solid core returning.”
With scoring at a premium for Harriton this year, defense became key for the Rams. Leading the defense was Short at center back. If the opponent got through, it was up to freshman keeper Lexy Calhoun, who became confident with quick reaction time thanks mostly to her quick hands and feet.
“It was a lot of fun being part of this team,” said Calhoun, who registered two point blank saves against Spring Ford. “I learned a lot and got more confidence each day. Having my defense in front of me was very important. I knew I could trust them which allowed me to be more confident.”
“It was so much fun to watch Lexy,” said Rees. “She was scared in the beginning but improved each day putting herself in front of every ball she could.”
Although their season came to an end sooner than they would have hoped, the Rams have plenty to look forward to returning many key cogs including Calhoun in net, Short at defense, Gaby Mazzoni and Sophie Edelblut in the midfield and Grace Honeyman and Syndey Kobak up top.
“All starters will return except my midfielder/forward who will be missed,” said Rhodes. “We have a freshman keeper who had little soccer experience but stepped up big for us this season. She’s a fantastic athlete who happens to be a terrific basketball player. We are so impressed how quickly she picked up such a difficult position.
“Having the entire back line return will be so important for us as they will have an entire season of experience playing our system and more importantly, playing together. Reilly was our only returning defender this past year and showed her experience when playing some of our most challenging opponents. She managed to keep things calm in the back when many of our games were on the line.”