By Alex Frazier
Eleven Suburban One games and not a single win to show for it.
For Chris Long and the rest of Quakertown’s seniors, it’s a sad way to end a career.
“It’s tough,” he said. “Everybody expects to have a good senior year. When you don’t have any success, you just have to deal with what you’ve got and make the best of it.
“We’ve tried to have our moments of good play. When we do get those moments, you feel like you’ve accomplished something. We don’t seem to get enough of them to make a win.”
Coach Marc Benson can sympathize.
“I feel horrible for him because we haven’t had any success to give him a result for all his hard work,” he said. “He definitely deserves it. He’s probably one of the best kids I’ve ever coached because you can rely on him for just about anything.”
There are a variety of reasons for the Panthers’ lack of success in the league this year, even discounting the fact that Quakertown is the smallest school in the Continental Conference.
With an experienced back line returning, this was a year the Panthers anticipated would gain them respect around the league.
But a streak of injuries, a host of new faces, including a new coach, and a bunch of untimely penalty kicks have transpired to thwart expectations.
When Benson arrived at Quakertown this year from Boyertown, he immediately tapped Long to be his liaison with the team.
“If I’m running a little late, he runs the practice,” said Benson. “He gets them warmed up and takes them on a jog. He leads by his voice and inspires the kids by the way he plays. He works his tail off. Being a first year coach, I couldn’t ask more as a player and as a leader than I have with Chris. He’s done everything I’ve asked him to do even if it’s something that he doesn’t want to do.”
Sometimes that has meant dropping back from center midfield to defense. Benson prefers him at midfield.
“If he gets the ball we become dangerous,” he said. “He knows where to go with it. He has poise on the ball. He knows how I want it to play. From day one he’s turned himself into the player I want him to be.”
But there are times when Benson needs him out wide or in the back.
“He just keeps trying to win,” said Benson. “He puts the team on his back and plays his heart out every game.”
With the exception of a few years of premier club ball with Lehigh United, Long is a home-grown product of the Quakertown Soccer Club. Until he arrived at Quakertown, he played mostly defense, but he prefers midfield.
“There are times when I miss defense,” he said, “but I definitely like the opportunity to get upfield more.”
This year he has scored four goals.
“I’m getting beat up on a lot, so it’s difficult to get up and score some goals,” said Long.
Besides being a playmaker and leader, Long also takes time to help bring along the younger players.
“He leads by teaching the younger kids what you have to do in a situation, trying to be motivational and staying positive,” said Benson. “I don’t know how he’s doing it. A lot of players put in the situation he’s in would crack.”
The Panthers are hoping to notch at least one win this season. They have three games remaining against North Penn, Hatboro-Horsham and Souderton.
“I’m hoping we can get him at least one win,” said Benson. “I have a tall order.”
Long plans to play college soccer. He is looking at a few D-II and D-III schools, most notably New York Poly, which appeals to him because of a strong engineering curriculum. He wants to study civil or mechanical engineering.
While soccer season may be a bust in terms of record, he’s hoping the spring will be better.
He has also played volleyball for four years. The team has made the playoffs the last two years and is returning an experienced crew, including some of his soccer teammates.
“This is a year we’re really looking forward to,” said Long.
It certainly would be nice to go out his senior year a winner.
“That’s what I’m hoping for,” he said. “Me and the guys are really going to train hard this winter to hopefully give us a good way to end our senior year.”
PW on rise – Plymouth Whitemarsh is not resting on its laurels.
Last year the Colonials turned some heads in the American Conference, finishing fifth with a 5-8 record.
By some standards, it wasn’t a remarkable season, but for PW it represented a step up.
“It was an improvement on the years before,” said coach Nico Severini. “We knew that this year was a crucial year to build on what we established last year. We wanted to make sure last year wasn’t a fluke.”
As of Thursday, the Colonials are sitting in third place with a record of 6-3-2 (8-4-2 overall), two points ahead of Upper Moreland. If things remain as they are, they have a good chance of making the playoffs for the first time since 1985, and with four games remaining, they even have a chance of finishing second.
They meet second place Cheltenham Monday evening. In the first meeting, the two teams battled to a scoreless tie. The Panthers currently hold a five-point lead.
“We don’t want to dwell too much on what we’ve done because it could go the other way if we don’t finish up how we would like to,” said Severini.
For the first time in recent memory, PW beat Upper Dublin twice in one season.
“I don’t know if that’s ever happened at PW,” said Severini. “It’s been at least 10 years, and they’re a good squad. Their record is not a reflection of their team.”
At the beginning of the season, the Colonials set down their goals. They wanted to be in playoff contention and win at least 10 games.
“Can we reach our goals?” said Severini. “We still have four games to go. By beating Upper Dublin we clinched at least a .500 record in the league and the year, which is great. We’ve reached some of our goals but we’re not complacent accepting that. We want to go out and see if we can make it happen.”
PW’s success has come despite a rash of injuries, sickness and red cards that has forced a different lineup almost every game.
“The kids fight through,” said Severini. “They don’t dwell on what if’s or could be’s. We go with what we have and try our best.”
PW has no superstars. Every game someone else has stepped up.
“What has made us successful is that we’re a pretty unified team,” said Severini.
Some of the key players for the Colonials have been senior goalkeeper Will Ruppenthal, junior defender Cameron Scott, senior midfielder Sam Nagley, senior midfielder/forward Jimmy Garrison, junior right midfielder Kastro Fazliu, left midfielder Paul Wasena and strikers Brandon Johnson, a sophomore, and junior Matt Sadin, who scored a huge 35-yard goal in overtime to defeat Upper Moreland.
“These kids are working hard. They have great attitudes. We’re constantly reminding them—the ball is in your court, destiny is in your hands,” said Severini.
Around the league – Thursday’s weather postponed much of the SOL slate, but one important game did get played. Souderton solidified its grasp on first place with a 1-0 double overtime win over Central Bucks East on a goal by Alec Jackwak. The Big Red leads the Continental Conference by three points over East and five over Pennridge.
"I am proud of my kids,” said coach Tom Quintois. “This was a very even game and we were very fortunate to get the outcome.”
Souderton has two league games remaining against Pennridge and Quakertown. The Indians need a win and at least a tie to clinch the division.
C.B. East has West and South left on its league schedule and will likely need to win out to have a shot at the title.
• The National Conference seems to be stabilizing somewhat. As anticipated, William Tennent played a role in the standings at the top.
The Panthers tied Council Rock North 2-2 to give Pennsbury the lead. Then the Indians tied Neshaminy solidifying the Falcons’ hold on the top spot at 10-1 with a four-point lead over Rock North.
In Pennsbury’s matchup with Tennent, Thadieus Heinz and Askia Rumph scored to avert a potential disaster.
Thought you had a handle on the Continental Conference? That handle is like a greased pig. Just when you think you’ve got it in your grasp it slips away.
Souderton knocked off North Penn in overtime on goals by Alex Muir and A.J. Androkites last Friday to take over first place after C.B East lost 1-0 to Pennridge.
But then Tuesday the Indians had to rally from a 1-0 deficit on Kyle Nelson’s goal with four minutes to play to tie the score against a pesky C.B. South. That put East back in first place, until Thursday when Souderton defeated the Patriots.
A surging C.B. West knocked off North Penn 1-0 and then blanked C.B. South 3-0 to move into a tie for fourth place with the Knights.
In the American Conference, the race is for a playoff spot. Wissahickon is a lock for No. 1. Cheltenham, Plymouth Whitemarsh and Upper Moreland are all vying for two possible spots in the district playoffs.
PW blanked Upper Dublin, 3-0 and edged Upper Moreland 2-1. Monday, the Colonials face Cheltenham, which could be a battle for second place.
SOL Top Five
2. Council Rock North
4. William Tennent
5. Central Bucks East
Southeastern Pennsylvania Soccer Coaches Association Poll (through Oct. 11)
1. Pennsbury. . . 12-1-1
2. Council Rock North. . . 11-1-1
3. Father Judge. . . 12-1-1
4. Strath Haven. . . 10-1-3
5. Lower Merion. . . 13-2-0
6. La Salle. . . 10-2-1
7. Unionville. . . 12-1-0
8. Conestoga . . . 10-2-2
9. Upper Darby. . . 8-2-2
10. North Catholic. . . 8-3-1
11. Christopher Dock. . . 10-2-1
12. Archbishop Wood. . . 11-1-0
13. Octorara. . . 12-2-0
14. Downingtown West. . . 9-1-4
15. Souderton. . . 9-2-2
16. Central Bucks East. . . 8-4-0
17. Germantown Academy. . . 7-5-0
18. Wissahickon. . . 10-2-0
19. St. Joseph's Prep. . . 7-3-2
20. Downingtown East. . . 9-3-1
20. North Penn. . . 8-3-1
Others receiving votes (in order): Pottsgrove, West Chester Henderson, Archbishop Ryan, Great Valley, West Chester Rustin, Bartram, Malvern Prep, Haverford School, Shipley, William Tennent, Pennridge.
PSCA / ANGELO'S SOCCER CORNER POLL
(Week of Oct. 11)
1. Parkland (11) previous rank 3
2. Pennsbury (1) 4
3. Manheim Township (3) 5
4. Council Rock North (1) 1
5. Upper St. Clair (7) 7
6. Unionville (1) 6
7. Mt. Lebanon (7) 2
8. Fox Chapel (7) 8
9. Strath Haven (1) 10
10. Central Dauphin (3) HM
Honorable Mention: Conestoga (1), Delaware Valley (2), Father Judge (12), Hershey (3), Lower Merion (1), Peters Township (7).
NSCAA National Region III Rankings
1. St. Benedict's Prep (Newark, N.J.) 8 - 0 - 0
2. The Pingry School (Martinsville, N.J.) 11 - 0 - 0
3. Parkland (Allentown, Pa.) 15 - 0 - 0
4. Pennsbury (Fairless Hills, Pa.) 13 - 1 - 0
5. Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.) 9 - 0 - 0
6. Manheim Township (Lancaster, Pa.) 14 - 1 - 0
7. Council Rock North (Newtown, Pa.) 11 - 1 - 1
8. Scotch Plains (N.J.) 8 - 1 - 1
9. Upper St. Clair (Pittsburgh, Pa.) 11 - 2 - 1
10. Delbarton (Morristown, N.J.) 6 - 1 - 1
11. Unionville (Kennett Square, Pa.) 12 - 1 - 0
12. Seton Hall Prep (West Orange, N.J.) 10 - 0 - 0
13. Mount Lebanon (Pittsburgh, Pa.) 13 - 1 - 1
14. Fox Chapel (Pittsburgh, Pa.) 14 - 0 - 1
15. Rancocas Valley (Mt. Holly, N.J.) 8 - 2 - 2