On Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, Central Bucks West senior Ryan Van Pelt and Jimi Leder were recognized for committing to play soccer at the collegiate level. Check back for photos of the signing event.
“Both were senior captains this year – a captain in the defensive third and a captain in the offensive and midfield third,” West coach Stefan Szygiel said of Van Pelt and Leder. “One was at one end trying to keep balls out of our net and the other was on the other end trying to create and put the ball in the net of the opponents. They both really hit their stride when districts started. The run that we went on (to the PIAA 4A final) – everybody that was a part of that was integral, but Ryan Van Pelt might have had four or five just historic playoff games. We just gained confidence the longer it stayed 0-0 because you’re not going to score on Ryan. It’s going to take something really special to score on him, and that confidence goes through the rest of the team all the way up the formation.
“With Jimi – at any point, he can change the game with one darting, sprinting, change-of-pace run. The game that stands out for me was the game in the first round of states against Central Dauphin in Hershey. Ryan had a great night on the defensive side. We didn’t see a lot of the ball because Central Dauphin was so talented, but sure enough, in overtime, Jimi latches onto a half volley from 35 yards out and it goes in. That’s the stuff he was capable of, and he did it for two years. In 2018 with that run to the district title, he scored huge goals for us. He had a knack for showing up in big moments.
“These names that we’re talking about – Van Pelt, Leder, (Bailey) Moyer, the year before that the Dylan Smith class and the year before that Tarin Morris – this has been an unbelievable collection of players the past three years. Losing Jimi and Ryan is obviously a big deal for us.”
Jimi Leder – Temple University (Soccer)
Major: Business Management
Final list of colleges: Temple, Villanova, La Salle
Reasons for choosing Temple: “Just how close it was to where my family lived, and it was the only public school that offered me, so it was a lot more affordable than some of the other schools.”
What was the progression that led you to competing in soccer at the collegiate level? “When I first made the varsity team freshman year, I really wanted to play college soccer. Then when I moved to Pennsylvania my junior year, my recruiting process just skyrocketed.”
Coach Stefan Szygiel says: “Jimi transferred in to West in 2018, and on that 2018 team, we returned so many starters. You lose Tarin Morris, you lose CJ Lang and that senior class that made the state semifinal run in 2017, but the expectations were really high for 2018, and Jimi comes in and gives us another weapon. It’s crazy to think about – that 2018 team probably had the most talent but didn’t go as far as the ’17 or ’19 team as far as the state tournament, but they won the district and they were co-champs in the league. Jimi came in and pretty much grabbed a starting spot and didn’t look back. He and Bailey (Moyer) were the leading point getters for the ’18 team. Bailey had 10 goals and Jimi had nine and Jimi had eight assists. This year he was our leading point getter again. He had a knack for creating something out of absolutely nothing out of nowhere. It would feel like we’re defending a lot, Ryan is making saves, our defensive line is holding, and out of nowhere, Jimi would shoot the ball from 30 yards and it would go in.”
Favorite food: Steak & Mashed Potatoes
Favorite movie: Nacho Libre
Favorite music: Travis Scott
Ryan Van Pelt – Widener University (Soccer)
Final list of colleges: Widener, King’s College
Reasons for choosing Widener: “I went to visit their campus, and it was really nice. They were talking about the opportunities they had with their business programs, and it was really a good spot to put myself in.”
What was the progression that led you to competing in soccer at the collegiate level? “I have been playing soccer since I was a little kid. My brother would shoot balls at me when I was about three years old and tell me to try and stop it, so I have just always been doing it.
“In 10th grade, I started doing showcases for my club team – YMS, and ever since then, it’s just progressed.”
Coach Stefan Szygiel says: “You could argue that by Ryan’s sophomore year he probably could have been competing and starting for a lot of varsity teams. By junior year for sure, but the conversation and the buy-in from him to understand that Dylan Smith is still going to be the starter in 2018 – ‘We have you coming in for 2019 and be prepared to take the reins. We’re not asking you to be Dylan, we’re not asking you to be anybody except yourself.’ He actually took some lumps early in the year, and it was like, ‘Hey dude, we’ll get through it.’ He didn’t have the luxury of being a two or three-year starter because he was behind Dylan, but he’ll tell you that he certainly learned a lot from him. That’s the value of having a guy like that, and now Ryan – with our next crop of keepers coming through, they will now have learned from Ryan. That’s the real cool thing to see – the legacy he’s left behind. Ryan Van Pelt is the only West goalkeeper to play in the state final. That’s a reality.”
Favorite food: Pasta
Favorite movie: The Longest Yard
Favorite artist: Post Malone
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