Tim Cliggett’s dad knew full well how great the Raiders could be.
And he’s officially a fan of the Archbishop Ryan High School soccer team. But in high school, he didn’t like them so much.
“My dad played soccer in the Catholic League, he was pretty good and he went to the championship where he lost to Ryan,” said Cliggett, a sophomore striker on the Raiders. “His cousin (Steve Brown) scored the winning goal, so he didn’t like them. But he likes them now. We played Prep and he wanted us to win.”
Dad has a good reason to cheer.
His son is one of the most talented players in the Catholic League and is a big reason for Ryan’s emergence as one of the best teams in the area.
The Raiders are 7-0 on the year and have knocked off good teams in the Catholic League and nonleague affairs. Their latest win was a biggie. When they scored two second-half goals to knock off Archbishop Wood 2-1 on Friday, they clinched a spot in the Class 3A state tournament. Sidiki Fofana and Teddy Westervelt scored goals for the Raiders, while goalkeeper Joey Phillips stood tall in net to make the victory stand up.
It was predicted the Raiders would be strong this year after winning a pair of playoff games last year and then taking eventual champion La Salle to the limit in a semifinal. The Explorers won 4-3, but it showed everyone the type of firepower Ryan had.
“I thought we were going to be good this year because we have a lot of guys returning, we only lost four players (to graduation) and we have a lot of young guys who came in and are helping right away,” said Cliggett, who has started every game in his career. “I tried to help the younger guys because that was me last year and I had a lot of help. So if I can do for them what the guys last year did for me, I’d be happy to do it.
“I played with a lot of the guys here before high school. We play for Lighthouse Cyclones. The more you play with people, the better you get because you know what they’re going to do. You’re used to playing with them.”
Now that the Raiders find themselves in the state playoffs, they can start to accomplish their goal of winning a championship.
A Catholic League crown would be great, but that’s not in the cards this year since the PCL isn’t awarding a title. The Raiders do want to have a great showing this year, and would gladly take an unblemished record, but now the ultimate goal is to win a state championship.
Cliggett knows for that to happen, he has to continue to be a sniper.
His biggest game of the year came when he scored two goals as Ryan knocked off Roman Catholic in front of a lot of fans on a Friday night. Most of the people weren’t at the game, they were watching on a livestream of the game, but it was still fun to be out there playing under the lights and turning in a strong performance.
“It would have been better in other years because a lot of people would come to watch us play in games like that, but it was still fun,” Cliggett said. “It’s good to beat any team in the Catholic League because you’re usually playing good teams. It’s a great league.”
Cligget wants to win for himself and his teammates, but the Raiders are playing for a bigger reason this year.
The team is dedicating the season to Georgie Karusky, who passed away in May a few weeks before he was slated to graduate.
Last year, Karusky was a solid player for the Raiders, but that was far from the biggest thing he did for the team. He was the ultimate team player and leader, especially doing his best to mentor younger players. Cliggett was one of the players he took under his wing, and he wants to bring home a plaque for his friend.
“We are playing for Georgie, so it’s really important for us to win this year,” Cliggett said. “I still have time to win a (Catholic League) championship, but it’s really important for us to win it for Georgie.
“It’s hard not having him. We bring (his jersey) to games. He was such a good leader. He really helped me a lot. He scored the last goal we had last year, and he always tried to do everything to help all of us. He was a great teammate.”
Cligget wants to continue doing his friend proud.
And also do his dad proud.
During his senior year, Cliggett’s dad was the MVP of the Southern Division, and he later went on to play at Textile.
Cliggett has been lucky enough to learn a lot from his coaches, but dad will always be his first teacher.
“He played up top, too, so I learned how to play from him,” said Cliggett, who plans on joining Athletes Helping Athletes this year. “I learned how to work hard and how to finish and all that. Back to the goal and play off the ball. Pretty much taught me a lot. He coached me for club when we were young. He was an assistant with COPPA.
“My mom ran track in high school, so I got my speed from both of them, but soccer, that’s all my dad. He was my first coach and he still helps me a lot.”