2011 Boys' Soccer Notebook (Vol. 3)

Gutierrez contributes in and out of goal -This was supposed to be the breakout season for Harry S. Truman sophomore goalkeeper Eric Gutierrez -- the year in which his excellence between the pipes was noticed by the rest of the National Conference.
But one untimely collision changed everything.
In the Tigers' second game of the season, a nonleague contest against Archbishop Ryan, Gutierrez moved to grab a cross from the left side of the net. At the same time, a Ryan forward went for the ball.
"I remember the ball coming at me and a kid coming straight into my face," Gutierrez said. "Once I was down, I knew something was wrong."
The collision left Gutierrez with a split lip, which was later stitched, and a lot of swelling. But as the swelling subsided, the news got even worse.
"Once the swelling went down, I went to the doctor and he could feel a little chip in my cheekbone where it broke," Gutierrez said. "They had to do surgery on that. I had a titanium plate put in."
And just like that, what was supposed to be a stellar season for the young netminder became one of unbearable frustration.
"I would actually watch all these tough losses, and I sometimes feel like it's my fault, that I messed up the season," Gutierrez said. "But as the season went on, things started getting better on the field. We're starting to play better now."
That may be a bit of an understatement. The Tigers stand at 2-9-1 in the conference, 4-10 overall, but they've posted a 3-2-1 record in October, including victories over Continental Conference power Central Bucks South and National Conference contender Pennsbury, as well as a scoreless tie against Neshaminy.
Much of that can be credited to the two players who have stepped up to fill the void Gutierrez has left on the field -- Jimmy Antolino and David Rodriguez.
"Jimmy Antolino used to be a goalie about four years ago. He's played defense for us," said Truman coach Scott Milone. "He stepped up and said he'd give it a shot. I give him credit - he's got a lot of guts to want to do that. It's not an easy position to step into and become the goalie and have the team depend on you. I give him a lot of credit for stepping up. And David Rodriguez is a sophomore who's been bugging us to give him a shot. We put him in (in a 1-0 win over Pennsbury), and he stopped a penalty kick - he played fantastic."
The two have had some help, though. Because while Gutierrez might not be able to stand between the pipes, he can certainly stand with his fellow goalkeepers and help them out where he needs to.
"Eric works with our two kids we're using," Milone said. "He works with them, talks to them, when subs come out, he'll sit next to them and tell them what he sees.
"I've never seen that part of him before because he's always in goal. But he's really knowledgeable about the game. And it's really nice for the kids to have that. It's one thing when the coach says something to you, when you have your own peer, sometimes it carries a little more weight."
And the news has gotten even better recently. Gutierrez and Milone believe there is a good chance that he will be able to return to the net for the final game or two of the season.
"There is a good possibility," Gutierrez said. "We just have to see what the doctor says. I want to play. If they tell me I can't play, that's fine. But I really do want to play. It'd be great to be back out there this season, just being able to play again. Soccer is my life, that's all I do."
And if he has to wait until next season to step back into the nets, that's OK, too. It just means it'll take a little longer before the rest of the league recognizes what the Tigers already know.
"Eric is without a doubt an All-League caliber player," Milone said. "Next year he'll turn a few heads. People will know he's there, that's for sure."


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Fedele anchors defense - If you ask Steve Fedele, he'll tell you he's simply stunned that the rest of the Central Bucks East defensive corps has improved as quickly as it has.
If you ask his coach or teammates, they'll tell you that Fedele has played a major role in the development of the young defenders.
Fedele is the lone senior on the East defensive line and has moved this season to center back. He's joined by sophomores Ryan Gleason and Ryan Vare as well as freshman Chris Gomez on a defensive line that came into the season as a major concern for the defending Continental Conference champion Patriots.
"We had a tie and a loss in our first two games, and we've won 11 out of 12 right now in what I think is an incredibly tough league," East coach Mike Gorni said following the team's 3-1 win over Central Bucks South on Wednesday. "Steve is sitting in the back right now with a freshman and two sophomores who've come a long way, but Steve's our leader. We probably don't get enough credit for how good we are offensively, but we always have to be organized in the back and a lot of the credit goes to Steve."
Fedele, though, is quick to deflect the credit. He praises the underclassmen who help him patrol the defense. He credits goalkeeper Jacob Nesteruk for being a rock in the cage and giving the defense the confidence that if they do make a mistake, he'll be able to bail them out. And he gives thanks to those who helped him become the player and leader he is today.
"Last year I had great defenders all around me," Fedele said. "Kris Davis was the center back and I just tried to model our defense and my play around that.
"It's all about the young guys stepping up, and they have. Some of those guys didn't even play varsity last year, and they're stepping up. I can't even tell they're underclassmen, they play like seniors out there."
And that's been a major part in the Patriots' success this season. As of Friday, East stands at 10-2 in league games (11-2-1 overall), and need just two points in their last two games to claim the Continental Conference title.
But while Fedele would likely wave off any kudos for the play of the young defenders, his teammates and coaches are quick to send accolades his way.
"Steve is the leader back there," Gorni said. "He's making the players around him better, and we needed that from him."
"Steve's done a great job on the defensive end," senior midfielder Sean Jenkins said. "He's really stepped in after losing such a great defensive line last year. And he's got the young guys really playing well."
Fedele admits he's a little surprised -- and more than a little impressed -- at how quickly and how well the defense came together this season. A league title and district playoff berth are both tantalizingly within reach, as is a chance to repeat and possibly improve upon last year's postseason run that saw the Patriots come oh-so-close to winning their first state title. But the senior captain and the rest of his teammates continue to keep their focus only on the next game.
"If you would have told me at the start of the season that we'd be 10-2 right now, I'd have said, 'I really hope so,'" Fedele said. "It all worked out and I really have to give all the credit to those guys stepping up.
"Our goal is to get to states again and win it, but we're taking this one game at a time. Right now, we just want to finish the season strong, get into districts and then it's a whole new season."

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Wambold leads by example - Carl Wambold may wear his number on the chest of his Upper Moreland jersey, but coach Jack Knauss suggests it wouldn't be inappropriate for the senior defender to wear a large red "S" instead.
"Carl is a Clark Kent kind of person," Knauss said of the Honorable Mention All-League selection. "He's a very even kind of person with his demeanor. He doesn't get too down, he doesn't get too up. He brings the same attitude to every game. He's very mild-mannered."
On the field, though, Wambold is all business. And he's played a huge part in getting the Golden Bears to where they are right now -- one point behind American Conference leader Wissahickon and riding a seven-game winning streak to a likely district playoff berth. The Bears, who began the season at 1-3 with losses to Wissahickon, Upper Dublin and Plymouth Whitemarsh, avenged those defeats the second time through the league. They have not lost a game since Sept. 19, and have posted five shutout victories on their seven-game run.
The current season has progressed much as Wambold's Upper Moreland career. Nicknamed "Dark Side" by his team, Wambold was a much more emotionally aggressive player as a freshman. But by the time he stepped into a starting role in 10th grade, he had matured and improved tremendously.
"I've known Carl a long time and I coached his older brother," Knauss said. "Carl would try to push his weight around in ninth grade and he'd end up getting a yellow card. We told him, we don't need you getting yellow cards, we need you on the field and we need you to keep in check, and he's done that."
Nowadays, Wambold leads by example, and while his quiet demeanor and steady play is anything but flashy, his teammates know just how important a role he plays in the success of this Bears' team.
"Carl is what you'd call the silent leader, there's no big mouth on him," Knauss said. "We depend on him so much, we're going to miss him plenty next year.
"He's our stopper, but I can move him up. And when the game's on the line, he's back at stopper position. He and Kyle Lynch, our sweeper, work so nicely together. They make the rest of the defense better. And when you have a good defense, and they understand each other and support each other, and support with the keeper, things start to come together. Right now we're really coming together as a team."
Wambold's strengths include his unflinching desire to succeed -- on every play -- and his tremendous speed and ability to run down an attacking opponent. Though he may not get his name listed in the scoring totals very often, he's able to make his presence known in other ways.
"Carl is that unsung hero that everyone depends on all the time," Knauss said. "And he's such a great kid. I just love him. If all the kids were like Carl, then we're doing a good job as coaches and as adults."