After 10 straight years of being defeated by Father Judge, Archbishop Ryan finally has bragging rights in the friendly inner-city rivalry.
Even though it was all in good fun, Will Stackhouse was sick of hearing about it.
Stackhouse is a senior striker on the Archbishop Ryan High School soccer team, and the Fox Chase resident has a lot of friends on the Father Judge team.
The Crusaders are annually one of the best teams in the area, and have owned the Raiders in recent memory. In fact, heading into the year, Judge was unbeaten against Ryan in the past 10 years.
“It was tough because they would tell me about it all the time,” Stackhouse said. “I wasn’t mad because I knew if I beat them, I would have done the exact same thing. But I really wanted to get one against them.”
On Oct. 3, Stackhouse and his teammates earned bragging rights.
Stackhouse scored the first goal of the game and assisted on a second-half goal by George Montag, helping the Raiders beat Judge 2–0 in front of a large crowd at Ramp Playground, across the street from Judge.
It was just a regular season win, but it was a win that ripped a King Kong-sized monkey off the Raiders back.
“It was great, especially for me, George, (Christian) Shoemaker and Jeremy (Madrid) because we’ve been starting for four years and they always got us,” Stackhouse said. “It’s a great inner-city rivalry. I like those guys, we definitely respect them.
“It’s been Roman and Judge every year. They’re always talking because they would win. It’s great that we finally got that win.”
Defeating Judge is a massive step for Ryan, which has struggled to get those key victories in recent years.
Last year, Ryan had a strong regular season, but its year came to a screeching halt after a 4–0 loss to Archbishop Wood in the playoffs.
“That loss really left a bad taste in all of our mouths,” Stackhouse said. “We did better during the season, but when it ends like that, it ruins everything.
“The only good thing about that was we knew we had another year. I’m so glad that’s not how our career ended. We were young, and (the juniors) had another season to get better.”
There are no good losses, but Stackhouse believes falling to the Vikings in the playoffs, and a 5–0 loss to La Salle earlier this year, will pay off.
“The loss to La Salle was a huge wakeup call and I think that’s why we played so well against Judge,” Stackhouse said. “Every team has new players, but we had a lot, and when the season started, we didn’t have great chemistry. When you lose a game like we did to La Salle, it told us all we need to work harder and get better.
“The seniors, we wanted the younger guys to learn what they had to do on varsity, but it wasn’t just them. That let us know that if we didn’t work hard, it didn’t matter if we were seniors. We had to go out and play better because nobody wants to lose like that. It kind of woke us up.”
Stackhouse is wide awake now.
He’s scored eight goals on the season, six in Catholic League play, and he’s mixed in five assists in helping the Raiders to a 5–2–1 record.
Now in his fourth year as a starter, Stackhouse thinks the experience of previous seasons has paid off in a big way this year.
“When I was a freshman, the game was just so much faster than I was,” Stackhouse said. “I don’t mean the players were faster, but the game was faster. I had to think too much. Now, it’s so much slower. I know what to do. I don’t have the questions.
“My game is strength and knowing what to do with the ball. It’s slowed down for me so much. When you first get out there, you’re not ready for it. It takes a lot of getting used to. Now, it’s slowed down for me so much.”
Ryan does start younger players, and like all inexperienced players, at times they need some counseling from the veterans. That’s a role Stackhouse enjoys.
“I remember guys helping me when I was a freshman, so I try and do the same thing,” Stackhouse said. “You just have to answer questions for them and be supportive. When we lose games, we don’t yell or anything like that. That doesn’t help. You have to let them know how to fix things. We try and help (Ryan coach Ryan Haney) on the field. We’ve been doing this for four years, so that’s kind of our job.”
Next year, Stackhouse will continue his soccer career. He’s looking at many schools, and West Chester is the early favorite. There, he’ll likely major in business.
But right now, the only business he’s worried about is helping the Raiders bring another plaque to Academy Road.
“I don’t care about All-Catholic or anything like that, the only thing I want is to win a championship,” Stackhouse said. “I’d love to play Judge again because those games are so much fun. But the main thing is winning a Catholic League championship.
“Beating Judge was one of the best nights of my life. It was such a great feeling. But winning a Catholic League championship would be even better.” ••