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Best NE soccer coaches of the last 25 years

Amanda Vogelman celebrates with (from left) George Todt, Ryan Haney and Jon Geist after she was inducted in the Ryan Soccer Hall of Fame. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Amanda Vogelman celebrates with (from left) George Todt, Ryan Haney and Jon Geist after she was inducted in the Ryan Soccer Hall of Fame. All three of these men are among the top coaches in Northeast Philadelphia. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

A few years back, we picked the best athletes from every school.

And a lot of people loved it.

True, there were others who weren’t happy, but the arguments were heated and fun! 

So it’s time to do something different. 

This one will be just as controversial, or fun, depending on how you look at it, as we break down the best coaches in every sport.

Today we’ll start with soccer, and we’ll go through the fall, winter and then spring. At the end, we’ll also do best coaches in other sports.

Today, we’ll start with soccer. 

This is an incredibly tough list to make because Northeast Philadelphia has such a rich tradition in soccer. Both the Public League and Catholic League championships usually have at least one local team playing in it. And as great as we are in boys soccer, we might be even better in girls.

Let’s go over the ground rules. These guys have to have coached a Northeast Philly school. Bob Peffle would obviously be on the list of soccer coaches, but he was at La Salle, so he’s ineligible. And we’ll go with coaches over the past 25 years. 

This will be tough to do. There will be good people left off the list, and not making the list isn’t a slight. 

So let’s start with the top 10 soccer coaches of the past 25 years

George Todt

Archbishop Ryan

When you can start your list with the all-time winningest soccer coach in the state, you’re doing something right. So did Todt, who racked up championship after championship while coaching the Raiders.

Todt built a dynasty at Archbishop Ryan, and this was at a time when the Catholic League was arguably the best league in the area for boys soccer.

Not only did Todt build a soccer team, but he made sure the school had the best facilities in the area. He made sure the school had a great field and then got a scoreboard put in.

Todt won 13 championships, 650 games and built an elite program.

He also served as the athletic director of the school, and made sure both the boys and girls soccer teams always had what they needed to be successful.

Jerry Brindisi

North Catholic

See all the great things we wrote about Todt? Well Brindisi made picking the top spot very difficult because while he didn’t coach as long as his archrival from Ryan, he was just as successful.

Brindisi definitely had a different way of coaching, but he got the most out of his players and helped the Falcons once again become one of the top teams in the city.

Brindisi had plenty of talent to work with, but nobody got more out of their troops, and that’s the main reason he won four Catholic League championships.

Brindisi coached the Falcons until the school closed. After that, he remained active in helping through the Norphans charity.

He’s still active, working as an assistant coach at Roman Catholic.

Mickey McGroarty spent 43 years as the coach of St. Hubert’s soccer team. He passed away last October. TIMES FILE PHOTO

Mickey McGroarty

St. Hubert

Some coaches build a program. McGroarty built a league.

The longtime coach of the Bambies started Catholic League girls soccer, and he did everything he could to make sure the league ran smoothly. But while he was keeping an eye on the growth of the Catholic League, he was winning a lot.

He spent 43 years coaching the Bambies and won nine Catholic League championships during his tenure.

When he wasn’t running the soccer program, he was coaching softball at Holy Family.

McGroarty passed away in October.

Ryan Haney

Archbishop Ryan

Not many have been successful in both boys and girls soccer, but Haney is the exception. The Ryan grad won 169 games over 11 years and won six Catholic League girls championships during that time. 

He stepped down in 2016 to take over the boys program and has had some fun times there, too, leading the Raiders to the state playoffs in the past two seasons. 

Haney played for Todt, and learned a lot from his former skipper. He won two championships as a player at Ryan.

John Dunlop

Father Judge

The only man to win a state championship, Dunlop led the Crusaders to the state crown in 2009. That was his biggest year, winning both the prestigious Catholic League championship as well. Overall, he’s won three championships and made the finals four other times.

Dunlop also led Judge to an undefeated season in the spring of 2021 when the Crusaders opted out of the fall season.

A former coach at Philadelphia University, Dunlop led the Crusaders to the Catholic League championship game last year. They’ll likely be a factor in PCL play this fall.

Bill Snyder

Frankford

The Pioneers had quite the dynasty and Snyder was a massive part of it.

Frankford won 11 straight Public League championships, and Snyder led the team to 134 wins during his career. 

Also had a stint coaching Holy Ghost Prep, where he had successful seasons.

Prior to picking up a whistle, he was a great player, starring at Penn State. 

His two sons went on to play college soccer.

Rich Patton

Abraham Lincoln

Athletics at Lincoln has greatly improved over the years, but when Patton was the soccer coach from 1976 to 2004, the Railsplitters nearly always had a great soccer program.

He guided Lincoln to 305 wins, eight Public League championship games and four league titles. 

Patton also helped the Railsplitters girls soccer team, coaching the squad from 1993 to 1999.

After retiring as a coach at Lincoln, he didn’t give up his whistle. He became an assistant coach at Manor College.

In 2011, he was inducted into the Pennsylvania High School Soccer Coaches Hall of Fame.

Jon Geist

Archbishop Ryan

Once Haney switched from the girls team to the boys team, his former assistant coach took over and the team stayed among the best in the area.

Geist, also a Ryan grad, guided the Ragdolls to three Catholic League championships and led the team to runs in the state playoffs.

Like Haney, Geist played for Todt.

Geist stepped down after the 2020 season to take over as the coach at Chestnut Hill College.

Markos Pittaoulis

Little Flower

Since 1987, Pittaoulis has been the coach of the Sentinels, and every season, he has the team among the best in the Catholic League. 

Pittaoulis had the Sentinels on the verge of winning the Catholic League championship many times over the seasons, and once watched his team celebrate after winning the big game.

A players’ coach, Pittaoulis is the face of Little Flower sports, and even though he expects a lot of out of his charges, he is well thought of by his players, both past and present. 

Pittaoulis will once again look to win a Catholic League championship in the fall.

Brianna O’Donnell/Deb Ounan

Franklin Towne Charter

It’s impossible to separate these two because they’ve been a team for so long. O’Donnell was the head coach, with Ounan serving as an assistant as the Warriors won five Public League championships from 2001 to 2018. She stepped down as head coach, and Ounan took over and guided the Warriors to another championship. Her assistant coach during that time? O’Donnell.

The two have different coaching styles, but work well as a unit and because of them, Franklin Towne is arguably the best team in the Public League.

O’Donnell, also a basketball coach, and Ounan might have had their best coaching gig this year. After not playing in 2020 because the school opted out due to the pandemic, the Warriors returned to the Public League championship in the fall, when they fell to Central 

Honorable mention

Steve McGarry

Holy Family

We are going for best high school coaches, but it’s impossible to talk about the great soccer coaches in Northeast Philly without bringing up the best assistant coaches in college soccer.

McGarry, who was born with kabuki syndrome, is by far the most passionate coach, and he’s always there to encourage his team, whether it’s on the sidelines or on social media.

A great athlete in his own right, McGarry loves sports. When he’s not coaching, he’s playing or hosting a podcast-like show on his YouTube channel.

You’d be hard pressed to find a coach who means more to his team and players. 

Do you see things differently? Feel free to comment on social media or send an email to jmason@bsmphilly.com to share your thoughts on the list.

One of the few things Stephen McGarry loves more than sports is his niece Ellie Patterson. CONTRIBUTED
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