It’s never fun to get knocked out of the playoffs.
It’s even worse when you get ousted by your biggest rival.
But Roy Hevener sees last year’s playoff setback as a reason to believe and a great motivational tool.
Hevener is the starting center midfielder on the Archbishop Ryan High School soccer team, and last year he was on the field when Ryan fell to Father Judge in a first-round playoff game.
In that game, the Crusaders jumped out to a 4-0 lead at halftime, but Ryan rebounded to score three second-half goals. The Raiders never got the equalizer, but they did do themselves proud by playing hard despite the massive deficit against one of the best teams the Catholic League has to offer.
“It’s funny because (Coach Ryan Haney) said that game could carry over to this year because we did pretty well, after a bad first half, against one of the best teams out there,” said Hevener, who is in his fourth year as a varsity player, third full year as a starter. “It was a weird game because we never give up four goals, and we had a hard time scoring last year. We need to play like we did in the second half.”
The slate has been wiped clean. Ryan begins its season this week. Hevener and his teammates have been working hard during summer camp to make sure this year will be a successful one.
And if that’s to happen, Hevener knows it means they’ll have to play better, especially when it comes to scoring.
The Bustleton resident is taking it upon himself to make sure the offense runs smoother.
“We have changed some things, and I’m going to be trying to generate scoring at midfield,” said Hevener, who scored seven goals and added five assists in 2021. “My role over the years has been to score, but more of a guy who distributes and gets assists. Whatever way I can help us get on the score sheet, I’m happy to do. Last year, our biggest missing piece was scoring. If we scored more, we would have had some better outcomes.
“In high school soccer, the center mid runs the offense. I’ll attack more if that’s what we need. I’m happy to do whatever we need to do.”
If the Raiders’ offense gets on track, they could be crazy good this year. Last year Ryan allowed the fewest goals in the Catholic League during the regular season, and a lot of the defense returns this year.
Hevener is an experienced veteran, and he has many other returning players to work with.
That means the goal is a Catholic League championship.
The Catholic League will be tough, but the Raiders have the pieces to be very good.
“This year, as a senior, it’s our dream to take home the plaque,” Hevener said. “It’s my last dance, the last dance for a lot of our guys. I would love to win a plaque this year.
“We’re ready for the Catholic League. We work on things, but by the time the PCL comes around, he lets us know what we need to improve on.”
It shouldn’t take Ryan long to figure out what it needs to do to beat good teams.
Ryan has an ambitious nonleague schedule, including games against Holy Ghost Prep, Penn Charter and Abington before it opens its Catholic League schedule.
Wins might be hard to come by before the Raiders get to their league rivals, but that might not be a bad thing.
It will only get them ready to battle it out with teams like Judge, La Salle, Roman Catholic and Archbishop Wood.
“I love our schedule, you’re playing your sport and having fun, but it’s fun to play tough teams,” Hevener said. “We practice a lot, and when you’re there, you’re having fun, playing a game you love. I think it helps a lot. The preseason helps so much, gets us a sneak peek, and how we’ll perform against PCL teams. That’s how you get better.”
Now he’s starting to think about the distant future.
He’s unsure what he wants to study, but he knows he wants to go to college and he hopes to continue his soccer career.
When he’s not playing soccer, he’s working hard in the weight room to make sure he’ll hold up against tough Catholic League foes, and it should serve him well when he plays at the next level.
“Soccer is the biggest thing in my life, but I love lifting weights and working out,” Hevener said. “My dad loves lifting weights and he got me into it and taught me a lot. I train differently during the season than I do during the offseason, but it definitely helps you play better.”
He also follows in his dad’s footsteps when it comes to playing soccer. His dad played at Washington.
“My dad played soccer, he taught me a lot,” Hevener said. “When my dad was in school, Ryan was one of the best soccer teams around. They won a lot of championships. I would really love to help Ryan get a championship before I graduate. It would mean a lot to me and the seniors to win, but it would be even better to bring a championship to Ryan. That would mean everything.”