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Patience pays off for McShane, Crusaders

Aidan McShane will lead the Judge soccer team this spring. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Aidan McShane is ready to play soccer.

In fact, he’s more than ready.

McShane is a senior at Father Judge High School, and after starting his first two seasons, he missed his junior year with a torn ACL.

That was a big downer because the Crusaders had a veteran team ready to go, and he was going to be a big part of it.

Instead, he was just a spectator.

“I was really bummed out because we had a really good sophomore year and I got hurt in the winter after soccer season,” said McShane, who lives in Pine Valley. “Everyone else was coming back, and I couldn’t play. I was really looking forward to it, too. So it was tough.

“I was a Second-Team All-Catholic (as a sophomore) and I wanted to have a big year, and I wanted to play with those guys. So not getting to play, that was really tough.”

It was a long wait that got a lot longer.

In the fall, the Catholic League, after weeks hemming and hawing over whether to play or not, decided to have a season.

But Judge decided to sit it out and play in the spring.

It wasn’t easy to be spectators during the fall, but McShane didn’t get too impatient. He wanted to play, but he had faith he’d get back on the pitch.

“When we found out the whole virus and everything, we were upset because we were the only Catholic League team not playing, I was bummed out about that, too,” McShane said.

But he wasn’t too upset.

“We trusted in Coach (John Dunlap), we trusted he would prepare something for us,” McShane said. “He always told us we weren’t going to play in the fall, and then we could have a spring season. And our schedule came out in November. We trusted him, we knew he was going to guide us down the right path. We knew that he was going to have a plan for us.

“We were bummed out we couldn’t play under the lights against Ryan and La Salle because we have a really competitive team this year. But now we’re playing, and they’re not. I think we’re in good position to have a great season.

The Crusaders begin their 13-game schedule, which includes matchups against Public League and suburban schools, this week.

Dunlap’s squad will be led by senior keeper Joe Davila. He’ll work with a defense that includes seniors Kevin Comey, Kyle Bovitt and Connor Seeley, and sophomore John Wood.

The midfield will include juniors Thomas Slavin and Brett Rajowski, sophomore Hughie Nungesser and freshman Kevin Castro. And up top will be McShane and freshman Abou Cherif.

Providing depth will be seniors Colin Ounan, Colin McNamara, Matthew Slowinski, Ryan Kelley, Michael Fox and Ben Wesolowski, junior Bobby Mulvenna, sophomore Michael McCusker and freshman Dane Pizzaro and Dylan Fitzgibbon.

McShane has been enjoying it ever since camp started about a month ago.

“The first few weeks, we had to practice inside because of the snow, but then we got outside and started to train and it felt like we were back,” said McShane, who has been playing club soccer all year. “It’s going really good. I think we’re feeling better, we’re starting to come together as a team and we are learning how to play together.

“We have some good seniors, but we have some really good younger guys. They’re going to have to learn how to play high school soccer. It’s a different game. You come in playing guys who are way bigger and stronger. I remember doing it and I’m going to do what I can to help them.”

The youngsters might need some seasoning, but McShane has high hopes for them.

They also have a terrific mentor to learn from.

“When I got up here, I had a lot of older guys who helped me, I was the only freshman, so they really helped me a lot,” McShane said. “This group is special. I think they can win a championship. I’m going to do what I can do to have them ready because they could really have a great career.”

McShane is just playing for pride and for his school because the Crusaders won’t be competing for a championship this year, and he’s not playing for a scholarship.

He’s already committed to continue his career at Chestnut Hill College next year.

“I know a bunch of people, friends that I played with, that are either going there or thinking about it,” said McShane, who will major in business. “Their coach (Ahmed Elgayar) has a really good plan, bringing in a lot of new guys. All that in a really good Division II conference, it was the best thing for me.

“It’s a great school and I want to do something in finance or Wall Street, those things interest me. And it’s not too far, it’s about 25 minutes away. I’ll live on campus, but not too far if I want to get a home-cooked meal.”

For now, he’s happy to be home and representing the Crusaders.

“We aren’t playing for a league or anything, but I want to win every game we play,” McShane said. “And just get them ready for next year. We want them to be ready because they’re going to be special. And if we get them ready, it will be like we won it when they do.”

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