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2022 Mercury Boys Soccer Team-by-Team Preview

Methacton players celebrate with the PAC championship plaque after winning the title on Oct. 21, 2021. (Austin Hertzog - MediaNews Group)

Boyertown

Head coach: Matt Danner, 3rd season

Last year’s record: 8-2 PAC Liberty, 11-2 PAC, 15-7 overall, PAC Liberty champ, PAC runner-up, District 1-4A quarterfinals

Athletes to watch: Mason Lorah, Sr., def.; Adam Becker, Sr., def.; Brady Albanese, Jr., mid.; Elijah Kaba-Emedoh, Jr., fwd.; Macade Knoblauch, Jr.; mid.; Chase Bartman, So., fwd.

Outlook: The Bears entered last year as PAC favorites and over the course of the campaign were the area’s best despite being upset on penalty kicks in the PAC championship. Frontrunner status doesn’t apply again in Boyertown, but the level – and expectations – never drop far. Front of mind is trying to replace 14 senior graduates, including All-State forward and 2021 Mercury All-Area Player of the Year Beckett Wenger (Lehigh). Chase Bartman, Macade Knoblauch and Brady Albanese are among a group that got quality varsity time a year ago and will be expected to rise up this fall. It’s a deep but young roster for the Bears that coach Matt Danner believes will be right back in title contention. “I see us being able to compete with the best teams in the PAC based on an infusion of young talent,” he said.

Daniel Boone

Head coach: Shane Ferguson, 4th season.

Last year’s record: 7-5 Berks II, 8-10-1 overall, District 3-3A playoff qualifier

Athletes to watch: Tucker Griffin, Jr., GK; Cam Henry, Sr., fwd.; Luke Harper, Jr., mid.

Outlook: The Blazers finished tied for second place in Berks II and qualified for the District 3 Class 3A tournament in 2021. They’re primed to turn in a winning record with three of four All-Berks performers returning in junior goalie Tucker Griffin, senior forward Cam Henry and junior midfielder Luke Harper. Boone will set its sights on dethroning Fleetwood atop Berks II and pursuing a deeper run in the postseason.

The Hill School

Head coach: Wyatt Fabian, 2nd season

Last year’s record: 9-9-1 overall, Mid-Atlantic Prep League co-champion, PAISAA quarterfinals

Athletes to watch: Gavin Mpiana, Sr., fwd.; Mauricio Choussy, Sr., GK; Jason Zhou, Sr., mid.; Harrison Ritts, Jr., mid.; David Jordan, So., def./mid.

Outlook: The Hill enters the year with continuity, which says a lot more than you might think. Without a season in 2020 and a transitional year under new coach Wyatt Fabian in 2021, the Blues should have enjoyed a traditional offseason as former Hill standout Fabian continues work on making a different mark on the Hill legacy. Gavin Mpiana, a Connecticut College recruit, and Harrison Ritts (Royersford) lead the list of returning players while Maurio Choussy, a transfer from Pingry School (N.J.), enters in goal. Hill will dig right on with the season-opening Hill School Soccer Jamboree where it will face top prep sides South Kent and Kiski (who ended their last in the PAISAA quarters last year). The battles continue with matches against St. Benedict’s and Phillips Exeter Academy, all with the goal of being battle-tested for the Mid-Atlantic Prep League slate and end-of-season PAISAA tournament. “We will have to replace several key contributors from last season, but this group is up for the challenge with its strong leadership and depth,” said Fabian.

Methacton

Head coach: Dave Stevenson, 6th season

Last year’s record: 5-4-1 PAC Liberty, 8-4-1 PAC, 11-9-1 overall, PAC champion, District 1-4A first round

Athletes to watch: Braden Kavanagh, Senior, Forward; Zach Willen, Senior, Forward; Brayden Ahlum, Senior, Midfield; Lucas Capelini, Senior, Midfield; Tony Paone, Senior, Defender; Cam Chilson, Senior, Defender

Outlook: Historically, Methacton has been a team on the outside looking in. That all changed last fall when an up-in-the-air PAC race was taken by the horns by the Warriors who won their first PAC championship with a pair of penalty-kick PAC playoff victories. They graduated a pair of All-Area first team selections in midfielder Otto Hull and defender Graham Halfpenny, but a trio of All-Area picks return in forward and track and field sprint standout Zach Willen, forward Braden Kavanagh and midfielder Brayden Ahlum. With a good mix of returners, new faces ready to make a mark and a quality brand of soccer, the Warriors have a ‘repeat attitude’, according to coach Dave Stevenson. With proven goal scorers and attacking players, Methacton is primed to keep pace and will hope to strike gold in the same way it did in 2021.

Norristown

Head coach: Jason Pinnock, 3rd year

Last year’s record: 4-6 PAC Liberty, 6-7 PAC, 11-8 overall, District 1-4A qualifier

Athletes to watch: Adan Morales, Sr., mid.; Chucho Carmona, Sr., def.; Alvin Munoz Cervantes, Sr., fwd.; Jose Gonzales, Jr., mid.; Gustavo Garza, Jr., mid.; Jonathan Hernandez, Jr., fwd.; Dilan Palma, Jr., GK; Alex González, So., def.; Colin Harrington, So., def.; Steve Ruiz, Fr., fwd.

Outlook: There was some preseason buzz around Norristown entering last season and the Eagles proved it correct by racking up a winning season for the first time in the PAC and earned its first district playoff appearance. Once an also-ran, the Eagles’ division wins included beating PAC champ Methacton and a season sweep of Spring-Ford. Replacing All-Area first team forward Diego Guzman will be a challenge. Senior Adan Morales leads the list of returning players that are out to prove last year was no fluke. “We’re going to be a fairly young team with a lot to prove with our seniors and program top goal scorer (Guzman) that graduated,” said coach Jason Pinnock. “They have raised the bar for these boys and I see them living up to the expectations and goals set for the season.”

Owen J. Roberts

Head coach: Joe Youngblood, 1st season

Last year’s record: 4-6 PAC Liberty, 7-6 PAC, 10-9 overall, District 1-4A qualifier

Athletes to watch: Ethan Williams, Sr., mid; Joey Kish, Sr., def.; Andrew Keddie, Sr., GK; Stephen Mullen, Sr., mid.; Sam Venza, Sr., mid.; Isaac Stephenson, Sr., mid.; Nicky Gambone, Jr., def./mid.; Mason Wiedl, So., mid.; Lincoln Mann, So., def.

Outlook: Joe Youngblood, who has been an OJR assistant for numerous years, steps into the top job vacated by Eric Wentzel. He enters into a promising spot with a returning foundation that includes four All-Area selections in midfielder Ethan Williams, defender Joey Kish, goalie Andrew Keddie and midfielder Nicky Gambone. Inconsistency has plagued the Wildcats in recent years leading to only one Final Four appearance in the past six years. With no runaway favorite in the PAC this fall, an opportunity awaits OJR. Instead of far-flung expectations, Youngblood is keeping it simple – the Wildcats are “looking to get better everytime we set foot on the field,” he said – and the results will take care of themselves.

Perkiomen School

Head coach: Nick Koffel, 5th season

Last year’s record: 12-2 overall, Penn-Jersey Champions

Athletes to watch: Guillermo Heras Gomez, Sr., fwd.; Takahito Tokunaga, Jr., mid.; Eduardo Tejada Pena, Jr., mid.; Kai Ible, Jr., GK; Kolten Reber, So., def.

Outlook: The Panthers made their presence felt in their first year in the Penn-Jersey League by winning the league championship, topping Cristo Rey in the final. A first priority will be proving that was no flash in the pan, but Perk School will need to do so without high-scoring forward Brock Reber. Guillermo Heras Gomez will be looked upon to lead the line for a team that is new and exciting, according to coach Nick Koffel. “I am looking forward to having a fantastic season with a new group of players. We have several returning players with some new additions, and I cannot wait to see them work together on the field,” said Koffel.

Perkiomen Valley

Head coach: Zach Allen, 4th season

Last year’s record: 5-5 PAC Liberty, 8-5 PAC, 12-8 overall, PAC semifinals, District 1-4A second round

Athletes to watch: Luke Hansen, Sr.; Justin Angelo, Sr.; Leo Kanopka, Sr.; Landon Raupp, Sr.; Ryan Taormina, Sr.; Christian Campbell, Jr.; Lawson Finger, Jr.; Chris Saboe-Moore, Jr.; Sean Schoeniger, Jr.

Outlook: The Vikings were a total wild card last fall capable of any result – for better and worse. It was more the former than the latter, which allowed PV to have a winning record and reach the second round of the District 1-4A tournament after an epic 6-5 comeback win over PAC champion Methacton in the first round. Nearly all of that attacking personnel has graduated, namely All-Area first team midfielder Owen Slack, now a starter at West Chester University, Javier Schorle and Owen Love. Starting goalie Justin Angelo and centerback Luke Hansen return, and with more experience in the back it may lead to a more defensive approach from PV. The Vikings ‘will need to rely on organization and discipline if they are going to have success,’ said coach Zach Allen. PV may be a different type of wild card this fall, but being in the Final Four conversation is within reach.

Phoenixville

Head coach: Michael Cesarski, 9th year

Last year’s record: 7-3 PAC Frontier, 7-6 PAC, 9-9 overall

Athletes to watch: Nate Stewart, Sr., mid.; Efe Ulcay, Sr., fwd.; Xander Bernal, Sr., def.; Evan DesMarais, Sr., fwd.; Ricky Kaniewski, Sr., fwd.; Sandro Vennera, Jr., def.; Jack Illig, Fr., mid.fwd.

Outlook: It’s been since 2017 that Phantoms have qualified for the PAC Final Four but based on the projections of more than a couple league coaches, Phoenixville is primed to return in 2022. After being light on seniors in 2021, Phoenixville now has a solid senior group that includes returning All-Area players Efe Ulcay and Xander Bernal and new addition Nate Stewart, a Navy recruit who previously played with the FC Delco MLS Next team. The time is now for the senior-strong squad. “This year we have a deep squad with many returning players in their senior year. There is also a fresh crop of younger players who are ready to bolster the team,” said coach Mike Cesarski. Getting back in the postseason, whether PACs, District 1 or both, should be reachable goals for the Phantoms.

Pope John Paul II

Head coach: Sackda Viravong, 4th season

Last year’s record: 2-8 PAC Frontier, 2-11 PAC, 4-13 overall

Athletes to watch: Ben Rubinich, Sr., mid.; Aiden Gray, Sr., def.; Ben Basio, Jr., fwd.; Jason Krum, So., GK.

Outlook: PJP returns six starters this fall including All-Area midfielder Ben Rubinich. Generating more attacking chances is paramount to the Golden Panthers after last year’s four-win season. “We’re looking to improve from last year’s performance. We definitely need to score more goals and continue improvement on defense,” said coach Sackda Viravong.

Pottsgrove

Head coach: Jay Witkowski, 19th season

Last year’s record: 5-5 PAC Frontier, 5-8 PAC, 6-12 overall

Athletes to watch: Nduati Michuki, Jr., mid.; Cole Williams, So., def.; Elijah Mohamed, So., fwd./mid.

Outlook: Pottsgrove’s era of dominance in the PAC Frontier ended last year. It’s year two of the rebuild and in some ways things are down to the studs. “This year’s squad might have the least amount of experience at the varsity level, heading into a new season that we have seen in many years,” said Falcons assistant Jeff Erb. “However, their desire to compete and get better each day cannot be questioned. If we can learn something from each match, capitalize on a strong work ethic and stick together as a team, our season will be a success (no matter what our final record is).”

Pottstown

Coach and number of seasons as head coach: Jace Stofflet, 2nd year

Last year’s record: 0-10 PAC Frontier, 0-13 PAC, 0-18 overall

Athletes to watch: Adam Green, Sr., GK; Henry Fetterman, Sr., mid.; Fredy Rodriguez, Sr., mid./fwd.; Qaseem Bruner, Sr., def.; Vinicius Candido Santana, Sr., fwd.; Jahiem Pratt, So., def.

Outlook: Pottstown endured the fate last year no team deserves: a winless campaign. The Trojans will still be reliant on many younger players but their senior corps that includes returning starting goalie Adam Green will be desperate to taste victory in 2022. “We have a lot of young players on our team this year. We are looking forward to developing and growing our program with our young players, while putting together competitive matchups with our experienced guys,” said coach Jace Stofflet.

Spring-Ford

Head coach: Mark Chambers, 1st season

Last year’s record: 3-6-1 PAC Liberty, 6-6-1 PAC, 10-8-1 overall, District 1-4A qualifier

Players to watch: Luca Carboy, Sr., mid.; Joey Ricevuto, Sr., mid.; Jonah Wuertz, Sr., def.; David Alban, Sr., Matt Henzler, Sr., def.; PJ Pozniak, Sr., GK; Cole Preschutti, Jr.

Outlook: A year later it’s still surprising to look at the 2021 PAC Liberty standings and see Spring-Ford at the bottom. But that was what shook out in the any-given-day nature of last year’s Liberty play. The Rams still managed to qualify for the District 1 playoffs but it was a year off the program’s usual pace. There’s a lot of belief around the PAC that last year was a blip and that Spring-Ford is a leading contender in the league this fall. Mark Chambers enters as head coach, replacing Brent Kissel. Chambers was last seen in high school soccer leading Boyertown to the PIAA semifinals in 2019 – the deepest a PAC boys team has ever gone. Captains Luca Carboy, Joey Ricevuto and Jonah Wuertz lead this year’s Rams. All-Area first team goalie Logan Hyduke is now playing in the MLS Next system, opening an opportunity for new starter PJ Pozniak. Chambers’ introduction will raise the standard at Spring-Ford but it’s possible to take some time for everything to settle. But by season’s end the Rams should be title chasing.

Upper Merion

Coach: David Lawrence, 2nd season

Last year’s record: 9-1 PAC Frontier, 9-4 PAC, 10-8-1 overall, District 1-4A first round

Players to watch: Patryk Rojek, Sr.; Casey Lamey, Sr.; Brandon Vo, Sr.; Justin Vo, Sr.; Sean Rogers, Fr.

Outlook: Upper Merion seized control of a mostly-down PAC Frontier in 2021 and went 9-1 to win the division title and were a penalty-kick loss away from making the PAC title game. With All-Area first team forward Patryk Rojek, the PAC’s most proven returning goal scorer, back along with classmate Casey Lamey (All-Area honorable mention), the Vikings may need to replace some depth but are looking for two in a row in the Frontier and district qualification.“The question will be, can we stay disciplined and focused? Will we have the willingness to put maximum effort into every practice and game while playing for each other as a team?” said coach David Lawrence.

Upper Perkiomen

Head coach: Kyle Fisher, 9th season

Last year’s record: 7-3 PAC Frontier, 8-5 PAC, 12-7 overall, District 1-3A playoff qualifier

Athletes to watch: Nick Durrant, Sr., def.; Mateo Schneidt, Sr., def.; Vincent Durrant, Sr., def.; Aiden Heiser, Sr.; mid.; Jimmy Friedman, Sr., fwd.; Austin Farrington, Sr., GK; Luke Gerstenberg, Jr., def.; Theo Deskevich, Jr., mid.; Logan Watkins, Jr., fwd.; Matthew Fisher, So., mid.; Ethan Barr, So., fwd.

Outlook: Upper Perk was right in the thick of the PAC Frontier race last fall and while it ultimately was pipped by Upper Merion, it managed a convincing winning record and qualification to the district postseason. Those standards are applicable in 2022 with a strong stable of returning starters, including All-Area honorable mention players Mateo Schneidt, Logan Watkins and Matthew Fisher. Schneidt is joined by Vincent Durrant and Jimmy Friedman as captains of the side. “We expect to have a competitive group this year with a nice blend of youth and experience,” said coach Kyle Fisher.

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