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Boys soccer teams have high hopes

Owen Stock is one of the defenders who returns to help the Raiders. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Northeast Philadelphia usually has the best soccer teams in the city, and that should continue this year. Last year Father Judge High School fell just short of bringing home a Catholic League championship, and in the Public League, Franklin Towne Charter and Washington advanced to the quarterfinals.

It won’t be easy for our teams, but once again, we should be watching soccer until late October and possibly into November.

Here is a look at the local boys soccer teams that returned their preview information.

CATHOLIC LEAGUE

Archbishop Ryan

Last year the Raiders were the stingiest team in the Catholic League, allowing a league low in goals scored. The problem was on the offensive end. This year, with some talented players and a year of seasoning, Ryan Haney’s troops should be able to score goals, while still being tough on the defensive end.

Leading the way is All-State goalie Joey Phillips. He’ll play behind a defense that includes Owen Stock, Frankie Monaco, Sean Scalen and Carter Doyle.

Ryan has a talented midfield that features Jarrett Lalli, Roy Hevener, Peyton Barton and Sean Dixon. They’ll be supported by Jack Stackhouse and Flaviano Costa.

The offense will be led by Timmy Cliggett, Mike McCurry, Hunter Bark and Jack Dreibelbis.

Ryan has athletes who should help it enjoy a memorable season.

“I think we’ll be competitive,” Haney said. “We have a lot of experience on the field. The talent in the league is spread out. I think Judge is No. 1 and the rest of us are trying to figure it out.

“Our kids are great. The seniors and the captains are a great group of guys. Our numbers are up. We’re fighting.”

Father Judge 

The Crusaders had a very good team last year, and they came so close to knocking off a very good La Salle team in the Catholic League championship. Many of those Explorers are gone, but coach John Dunlop returns a host of players from last year’s team. That means Judge should once again compete for a title.

The defense should be solid, led by Albert Ramocki, Sean McKenna, Dane Pizzaro and John Wood. They’ll play in support of goalies Jimmy Shelton and James Shensky.

Judge should be strong in the midfield, too, with Kevin Castro, Michael McCusker, Huey Nunsgesser, Moussa Cherif, Dylan Boyle, Gavin Dunlop, Joseph Kennedy and Juan Ceciliano.

Judge should have a very good offense with Abou Cherif, Michael Browning and Giovanni Lear.

Last year was a great season for Judge. If the Crusaders play that way this year, they could have another very fun season.

“(We) played with a young team and played well towards the end of the season,” Dunlop said. “Hopefully, that continues into this year. We have numerous players battling for playing time.

“I like our team a lot. We’re deep at numerous positions. Need to stay healthy and look forward to competing for the PCL title.”

PUBLIC LEAGUE

George Washington

Last year was a rough one for the Eagles. They finished 3-4-1, but three of their losses were in overtime. Washington ended up making the Public League quarterfinals, and this year, the potential is there for another strong campaign.

Leading the way will be junior midfielder Gustavo Espinoza, who will be responsible for leading the offense.

Other key players include Francois-Emmanuel Bontemps, who will play wherever the team needs him, as well as midfielder Moises Valdez Hernandez.

Defensively, the Eagles will be led by Muhammed Kamilov, Stephen Tetkowski and Bilal Draouch.

Coach Sean Decker was proud of the way his team played last year and hopes this year will be another strong one.

“We have a core group of players that are returning this season,” Decker said. “Our strength was our midfield possession and defensive back line.

“After a fairly successful season last year, we are looking to build on that and anticipate going deep into the playoffs. We are going to live by the following acronym for the season: DVP (Develop, Versatile, Possession).”

Franklin Towne Charter 

Like the Eagles, the Warriors made the quarterfinals, after going 6-5-1. This was a great job by coach Chris Logan because Franklin Towne opted out of soccer the previous year. This year, the team comes in with some seasoning, and that should help.

Franklin Towne will be led by Alex Pokora, Lucas Dolchanczyk, John Curry, Brandon Kreibick, Richard Mitchell, Samuel Garcia-Barrios and Adeyemi Michael Ekundayo. Logan is still working players in, so the team will likely improve as the season goes on.

“Our strength will be our defense and depth, led by a great group of returning players,” Logan said. “We have nine seniors and 17 returning players, so a team that began to come together last season will try to build on last season.

“After some growing pains during last season, (we) will rely on a large group of seniors to return to our goal of a PPL championship. If the team can work hard defensively and play together as a team, we will have a chance to return to the PPL championship game.”

Philadelphia Academy Charter

The Chargers, coached by Anthony Cancelliere, were rebuilding last year, and despite their 1-9 record, gave opposing teams fits through the year. They may not have won a lot, but they competed and were in just about every game. The Chargers are in the same boat as the Warriors, having opted out for a season two years ago, so they’re still playing catch-up.

Cancelliere is happy to have some talented players returning, including Mateo Dervishsi, Jordan Brennan-Melo, Rezart Caushaj and Anas Inchasy.

Cancelliere is happy with the way his team has performed during practice and he hopes it continues during the season. He has no reason to think it won’t.

“Going into the season our goal was to compete each week and get better every day,” Cancelliere said. “With only two returning varsity soccer players returning and PACHS not having a varsity soccer team due to COVID the prior year, we are still in the rebuilding process. Our strength will be our positive attitude and our desire to compete.

“I think our team will work hard and be able to compete in every game. What we are lacking in technical ability we will make up for with heart and determination.”

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