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Cliggett ready for final run at Ryan

Tim Cliggett has scored five goals this year for Ryan. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Tim Cliggett loves to go to Citizens Bank Park with his grandpop.

He was there on Saturday to watch the Phillies pound the Braves to advance to the National League Championship Series in Game 4.

He would have been there on Friday, but he was a little busy. 

So was his grandpop, who was in attendance to watch his grandson, a senior forward on the Archbishop Ryan High School boys soccer team, score a goal in his team’s regular-season finale. The Raiders knocked off Lansdale Catholic, securing the fifth seed in the Catholic League playoffs. 

Ryan will meet Roman Catholic on Friday night at Lighthouse.

Father Judge secured the first seed and will host St. Joe’s Prep in the first round. The other games will be La Salle vs. Lansdale Catholic and Archbishop Wood will meet Conwell-Egan.

The crowd at Ryan’s win on the final day of the regular season might not have been as big as the one at the Phillies game, but they were just as happy to see the Raiders leapfrog the Crusaders to set up the game against the Cahillites, who defeated Ryan 2-1 in overtime during a great game played earlier this season. 

“It was a good win, it gives us confidence going into the playoffs,” said Cliggett, who has scored four goals and added five assists this year. “Definitely. Scoring three goals, we gave up one against a really good team, we hopped a team in front of us. We hopped them, they were in front of us. It’s a big confidence booster.”

It also helped that the Raiders were able to get the offense on track in the win.

The Raiders have one of the best defenses in the area, and that’s a big reason for the team’s success this year. But unlike last year, when Ryan struggled to score goals, the Raiders go into the playoffs with much more firepower this year. 

And Cliggett, who runs the offense, is a huge reason for the improvement in the offensive end. He just hopes it continues when the games get tougher.

“This year has been very similar with the defense, they were great last year and they’re really playing great this year,” Cliggett said. “We had some heartbreaking losses early. But this year, we’re scoring more as a team. 

“The offense is doing better, we’re doing different things, but we need to score more. We want more. The more we score, the more we help the team.”

The offense isn’t the only thing that’s changed.

Cliggett’s game has evolved. 

A four-year starter, his first two seasons he was used as a complementary piece to Sidiki Fofana, who was one of the top soccer players in the area. But after he graduated, Cliggett stepped up to be the team’s top option. He did well as a junior, but has taken another step as a senior. He’s now providing Ryan with the go-to guy up top. And whatever he needs to do to help the team, he’s happy to do.

“They’re throwing me out on the wing, getting me in different positions, and it’s been more effective,” Cliggett said. “I’m happy because it helps the team and I’ll do what’s best for the team. I think I’m still playing the same way, but I’m getting the ball in more dangerous spots, and it’s helping us all.”

And the improved offense can put the Raiders where they want to be in a few weeks.

First up is Roman Catholic, and that sets up what should be the best game of the first round. 

Cliggett is happy to draw the Cahillites, and even happier about where the game is going to be played.

“I play club soccer for Lighthouse, so I love that field,” said Cliggett, who lives in Somerton. “And Roman is a great team for us, they’re a really good team. It’s fun because they’re probably our second-biggest rival after Father Judge.

“It’s always a good game when we play them. They’re a really good team. I think we all wanted to play them because it was either them or La Salle, and if we played La Salle, it would have been in the afternoon. Roman plays at night, and night games are more fun.”

Knocking off the Cahillites will be no easy challenge, and Cliggett knows that. But his ultimate goal is to bring home a Catholic League championship. 

The Raiders have been close a few times, and probably had their best shot to win a crown two years ago when the playoffs were wiped out by the pandemic, but Cliggett wants to see what it’s like to bring the plaque back to Academy Road.

“I really want to win a championship before I leave here and this is it,” said Cliggett, who plans on playing college soccer and is looking at Holy Family and Chestnut Hill, but is unsure about what he’ll study. “I want to win with these guys, it’s a great team. We want to win together. But it would mean a lot to win for Ryan. It’s a tough league, a lot of teams can win. I think we have a chance.”

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