Archbishop Ryan starting goalie Bryce Fadako took a big step when he took over the position — and he’s become one of the better goalies in the Catholic League.
Bryce Fadako knew it was going to be a big step up.
He also knew he wasn’t doing it alone.
Fadako, a senior, is the starting goalie on the Archbishop Ryan High School soccer team, and this is the first year he had the position to himself. Last year, he was the backup on the team and he mixed in on the junior varsity squad. He knew that making the jump from JV to varsity was huge and he worked for it.
“Playing varsity soccer in the Catholic League is like nothing else, it’s harder than club,” said Fadako, who lives in Parkwood. “I would go to the field all summer and practice things like crosses. I would go up a lot with my dad, but he’s not much of a soccer player, he would just help me get the ball.
“When we were doing other things, my cousin would come up. He plays soccer at Bensalem, so we would work on things together. It helped both of us.”
It really helped Fadako, who has turned into one of the better goalies in the Catholic League. He’s helped the young Raiders win some big games.
And they’ve helped him grow into a solid goalie.
“We have a lot of talent, but sometimes you’re going to have a bad game, especially when you’re playing with inexperienced guys,” Fadako said. “I’m inexperienced. I’m learning a lot. The best thing is that even when I have a bad game, they let me know they have faith in me and that makes me feel better.
“We all try and help each other get better. And as one of the seniors, I try and be one of the leaders of the team. I’m still learning to do that. It’s a good team, though, we have a lot of good players and they’re going to be really good.”
One of the biggest adjustments Fadako had to make since getting promoted to the main squad was playing in front of large crowds.
Catholic League soccer always draws well, but Fadako started for the Raiders in their annual game against Father Judge. The game, which was held at Ryan, drew an overflow crowd, and Fadako enjoyed the atmosphere. It probably didn’t hurt that the Raiders knocked off the Crusaders, who are one of the top teams in the league. Fadako earned the shutout, and the Raiders won 1–0.
Now that he’s an old pro in playing before packed houses, it’s something that motivates him to play his best.
“Before, all of the games I would play at, it would just be parents,” Fadako said. “My parents go to every game. In club and (junior varsity) games, you don’t get a big crowd. That was a big change. At first it was.
“After I got used to it a little, I loved playing in front of big crowds. The Judge game was good because of the crowd, but that game was because of my defense. They played so well in front of me that night, I didn’t have to make a lot of saves.”
Fadako credits his defense for being there for him every game. Like the rest of the team, the defense has some younger guys back there, but the group is led by Chris Rola, and he has really led by example. But according to Fadako, it’s the team effort that makes his job easier.
“They’ve been good all year and they make me better,” said Fadako, who hopes to play college soccer but is unsure where he’ll end up or what he’ll study. “They’ve gone up against a lot of really good players especially in the Catholic League and they’ve done a great job against them. Every team has good scorers.”
The Raiders, at times, have had trouble scoring goals.
The team has been led by sophomore Sidiki Fofana, and he and the offense have had games where they look like they can’t miss.
But they’ve also had games where they fail to generate any scoring, and that has kept Fadako from earning wins in games he played great.
“He’s had a great year, and he’s played better than a lot of people expected,” said Ryan coach Ryan Haney. “He’s really been big for us in big spots. There were games where he kept us in it. We’re a young team, and he’s played really well behind them.”
Fadako hopes he can help the Raiders steal some games in the playoffs.
The Raiders have a tough road ahead of them if they want to get to the Catholic League championship, but stranger things have happened.
Their playoff run began Tuesday when they traveled to Devon Prep for an eight-nine matchup. Ryan’s next game, should they win, will be on Friday against an opponent to be determined, either Roman or Wood.
The Catholic League is as tough as ever, but as displayed in the victory over Judge, the Raiders are capable of beating the best the Catholic League has to offer. That keeps the championship as the ultimate goal.
“I really want to play well in the playoffs and see what we can do as a team,” Fadako said. “It seems like we’re playing better every game, so we should be playing at our best.
“We were a young team, and I was inexperienced, but I’ve played a lot and we’ve played a lot together. I think the longer we play together, the better we’ll be. That should make us ready for the playoffs.”