“You have a better chance of winning the lottery.” That didn’t stop Anthony Cancelliere from bringing home not just one, but two state trophies.
For Anthony Cancelliere, soccer is more than a game.
For him, it’s family.
And he’s happy to pass on everything he learned to his sons, Michael and Matthew.
When he does, he’ll teach them things he learned while playing at Father Judge High School. He’ll also teach them tricks he learned when he was a star at Cabrini College. But almost always, it comes back to Danubia.
“Danubia is the greatest because it’s such a tight-knit club,” said Cancelliere, who coaches both the U-9 and U-11 teams. “You get more value with this club than any one around. It was that way when I played for it, and it’s the same way now.
“I’m really happy my sons are able to play for it because I learned everything while playing there, and now they’re getting the same experience.”
Almost, but not quite.
When Cancelliere was playing for the Somerton-based Danubia, short for Danube Swabian Association of Philadelphia and Vicinity, the teams were good. Now, they’re elite.
This year, the Danubia Gunners, an under-9 team, and the Hotspurs, an under-11 team, won state championships. It’s the first time in the history of the program, which started in 1957, that two teams won titles.
“You have a better chance of winning the lottery, it’s so hard to do, especially because of the competition we’re playing against every day,” said Cancelliere, who previously coached at Gwynedd Mercy and Father Judge.
“There were 64 teams in the U-11 group and 35 teams in the U-9 bracket. Keep in mind, a lot of these teams ranged from Premier Division and Division 1. That means some of the teams we beat along the way were three divisions higher than our teams were. So, basically, out of 99 teams in two age groups, our small club with one field, volunteer coaches, no tryouts and all neighborhood kids won both state cups.”
Cancelliere was proud his teams hoisted the trophy and posed for championship pictures after their seasons ended, but he’s even prouder his sons are following in his footsteps.
That’s where he learned how to be a quality player, and he believes his children are on the same path.
“Danubia is good because it’s about family more than it’s about soccer,” Cancelliere said. “The guy who coached me, Hans Klohen, still lines the field at the place. He’s still there. It’s the same good people who were there when I was playing. It’s just that there are more great people because they come back. It’s just a neighborhood team that plays hard and plays to win. But winning two state championships, I think, is more than we expected. It’s such a great accomplishment.”
Winning the championship wasn’t easy.
To do so, the teams had to win eight games against other elite teams that won their divisions. The games were played on weekends beginning in March, and the championships were held in June.
“I think we played better because of our passion and our will to win,” Cancelliere said. “There are so many great teams at this level. We just refused to lose. We played better and better and better every game. We were the small club, but we won two championships. That doesn’t just happen without kids giving it everything they have. And the coaches are volunteer, so they are doing it because they want to win.”
Winning was sweet, but it definitely gives Cancelliere’s sons bragging rights in the family.
When dad played, Danubia went to three state championship finals, but his teams came up empty.
His sons got over the hump.
“It was so much fun to watch them win,” Cancelliere said. “The further we went, the better they played. They pushed themselves and they won it. It’s a great thing for them and it’s a great thing for the club. It was just great.
“After the game, one of our guys was crying. He said he didn’t know how we did it, he realized how big it was. Every win felt better and better, and to win it, it was just so special.”
The U-11 team consists of Anthony Beideman, Ulises Renteria, Nick Jasionowski, Bryan Saylor, Michael Cancelliere, Ryan Kalup, Anthony Ramos, Charles Steinmetz, Brady McDonough, Kenneth Konopka, Aiden Ercolono, Calem Chait and Noah Schick.
The U-9 team’s players are: Michael Devlin, Matthew Cancelliere, John Diamond, Casey Crowther, Shane Lachawiec, Christopher Venuti, Jake Layton, Michael Speak, Tim Comey, Charlie Wetzel, Brian Dugan, Chalie Heron and Blaise Mulvenna. ••