Leader of the PAC

The Philadelphia Academy Charter High School soccer team has a great player at just about every position. That player is Taylor Teal.

Taylor Teal will play just about every position this season for Philadelphia Academy Charter. SUPPLIED PHOTO

Whatever it needs, it has.

The Philadelphia Academy Charter High School soccer team has a great player at just about every position.

If the Chargers need a stout defender to shut down the other team, they have the perfect player.

If they need someone to run the midfield and spark the transition game, they have the perfect player.

And if they need to throw someone up top to fill the net with a big goal, they have the perfect player.

That player is Taylor Teal.

Teal is a senior who will primarily play center-midfield, and will also see plenty of time at striker. But when the situation calls for it, particularly late in close games, she’ll slide back to defense to help the team hold on for a victory.

A younger Teal may not be so happy with this setup, but as a senior who will be doing her best to win and not showcase her scoring abilities, this setup serves her just fine.

“When I was young, I just wanted to play striker and score, but now I know that it’s not what’s best for me, it’s best for the team because winning is better than anything else,” Teal said. “Now, I like playing anywhere. I think it’s good that I can play anywhere because it gives us chances to put other players out there. We have a young team, but we have a lot of good players.”

Teal had an advantage growing up because she was coached by her father, Larry, who starred at Cardinal Dougherty and Cabrini College. He also had stints coaching at Dougherty and later served as the boys coach at Philadelphia Academy Charter before stepping down after last season to watch his daughter play.

While he was coaching boys in high school, he was helping coach his daughter as she was getting started in the sport. And while she wanted to focus on scoring goals, Coach Dad had other plans.

“I didn’t like it too much, but now I’m much more unselfish, so it worked out really good,” Teal said. “My dad is a great coach and he was hard on me. He never yelled or anything, but he pushed me to get better. He made me work harder, and that made me get better.”

It’s a good thing, because this year the success of the Charters depends greatly on how far Teal can lead them.

Last year, the Chargers advanced to the semifinals of the Public League playoffs, but it was a much different team led by a group of experienced veterans.

This year, the talent is still there, but there is one player who will be responsible to show the rest of the squad how to win at the varsity level.

“We lost a strong senior group last year so this is truly Taylor’s team to lead now,” said Philadelphia Academy coach Robert Mottershead. “She will be a big centerpiece for our success this year.”

It’s a job Teal is ready for.

Last year, she was also a team leader. She was a captain, but unlike this year, she was more of a lead-by-example type of captain. This year, she knows it will be her job to make some noise when the situation calls for it.

“It’s a lot different because that was never who I was,” Teal said. “But this year, I’ve been a little more vocal in practice. I’m not a leader who is going to yell, I’m going to try and encourage people and help them get better. They’re all good players. It’s a big step going from club to high school, so I’ll help them if they need it, and I’ll encourage them, but I’m not a leader who will yell.”

Teal knows what to do, both as a player and a leader.

She also knows what she’s doing in the classroom, where she maintains a GPA higher than a 4.0.

As much time as she spends honing her skills on the soccer field, she admits she works harder in the classroom. Next year, she hopes to play soccer, but she’s more focused on finding a school that will set her up for the future.

Right now, she’s planning to follow in either her dad’s footsteps or go the same route as her mom.

“I think I would really like to be a teacher, that’s always something I wanted to do like my dad,” Teal said. “But my mom works at a hospital and she helps people, so I think that would be a good job. I think I’d like to be a physical therapist and help people, athletes like I am, play and get better. Those are two things I think I’d really like to do.

“Both of my parents do great work, so I think I would like either of those jobs.”

But before she has to follow in their footsteps, she wants to bring a championship to Philadelphia Academy.

It won’t be easy. The young team has a lot of firepower, but it’ll have to come together quickly to compete in Public League play. It sounds like a tall task, but the Chargers’ leader has full confidence in them.

“I really think we could win a championship,” Teal said. “They’re really good. The girls are working hard. If we win, we’re going to have to outwork everyone. We’re young, but I think we have enough to be one of the top teams. If we work harder than everyone, we should be able to compete with anyone.”