Joey Lodise isn’t afraid to go to new places.
He always seems to be doing it for soccer.
Lodise is a junior at Roman Catholic High School, and every day after leaving his house in Chalfont, he takes the train to Suburban Station to get to school. It’s a long ride, but it’s nothing he isn’t used to.
And it all started when he took a trip to Portugal when he was 13.
“I got to play with a bunch of guys from all over, it was a lot of fun, we met soccer players and we watched Barcelona play,” Lodise said. “There were guys from all over, I was the only one from this area, but guys from New York and Maryland. We did pretty good, too, we made the semifinals. We were playing against teams that had guys from academies, and we did pretty good.”
While there, he met some players from the Lehigh Valley, which is where he joined his club team.
“I love playing with them, it is about an hour and a half away, sometimes an hour and 40 minutes, but I like playing there,” Lodise said. “We’re still playing four days a week through all this, we’re still playing. A lot of places aren’t, so I’m glad we’re still getting some touches.”
Lodise is hoping this preparation will help him for when the high school season begins.
And he knows he has a lot of work to do once it begins.
Lodise started his first two years as a Cahillite, and last year he was one of the key players who helped lead Roman to the Catholic League championship game. It was the second year in a row the Cahillites made the finals, and both years they fell just short of winning.
“I think it hurt more because both years, we lost by penalty kicks,” said Lodise, who started at center midfield last year and was a first team All-Catholic selection. “We had a great team, we played well, we just didn’t win. That makes it hard, when you know you can win, but you don’t. It makes you want it more.”
The Cahillites have the talent to get back to the top of the mountain again this year, but they’ll definitely need a huge boost from their junior leader.
They return just two starters from last year’s team, so a lot of new faces will be responsible for playing huge roles. It sounds like a lot to ask, but Lodise isn’t too concerned. From what he’s seen from the younger guys, he’s optimistic.
“The juniors and sophomores are really talented, some didn’t play a lot because there were older guys who were better,” Lodise said. “But they’re good. They’re getting better, too. It’s a huge difference when you get older.
“It was hard when I first started as a freshman because the guys you’re playing with are bigger. I went from playing in eighth grade to playing against seniors. It was a big difference. But now that I’m older and stronger, it’s a lot easier. It got a lot easier last year, and I hope to keep getting better.”
While it took some time to get used to playing high school soccer, he had a head start on what it was like to play for the Cahillites coaching staff. Lodise’s dad, a Judge grad, played for Roman assistant Jerry Brindisi when he was an assistant coach with the Crusaders. Because of that, he had a sneak peek into what it would be like playing for Roman.
It’s been everything his dad told him it would be.
“He told me (Brindisi) is a great person and coach, and he was right about him and about (Roman coach Ray DeStephanis),” Lodise said. “My brother went to Judge and he loved it, but I wanted to go to Roman. I wanted the experience of taking the train and growing up. Roman has been great for all of that.”
His dad, along with his brother, John, stay sharp by working together whenever they have free time.
It helps to have soccer players in the family.
“My brother and I will work on long shots, mostly,” Lodise said. “And my dad will help me, too.”
So will the newest Lodise, the family dog, Callie, who they have had for about six months.
“She has so much energy and loves to run,” said Lodise, who also has a cat named Dasher. “She’s always chasing me. It helps on my turns because she’s so fast.”
Lodise hopes the Cahillites can be the big dogs in the Catholic League this year.
He knows it’s going to be a challenge, but he’s gotten to the mountaintop twice in two years, and before he graduates, he wants to plant the flag.
“I really want to get a championship and I only have two years left,” Lodise said. “This year I want to make the playoffs and when we get there, make a run. I think we have the players, but we haven’t had a lot of time to play together and we won’t until the season starts. We’ll have to get better every game. We don’t have a lot of experience, but we can be really good if we work at it.”