by Tom Utescher
Following an August 26 soccer scrimmage against Archbishop Ryan that was not entirely satisfactory, the Penn Charter boys team opened September by outscoring visiting Cardinal O’Hara, 6-0.
After Thursday’s goal-filled affair, Quakers coach Bob DiBenedetto pointed out, “The score wasn’t the important thing to me; it was that we played much better than we did against Ryan.”
Winning the Inter-Ac League championship last fall with a 6-2-2 record and finishing 16-5-2 overall, PC proceeded to graduate nine members of the 2010 roster, including all-league goalie Michael Baron and the two leading scorers, Rob Friskey and Michael Goldman.
However, the Quakers carried 23 players on last year’s team, and even the freshmen saw a good deal of action. Ben Krieger, the only senior on the squad this year, will start in goal for Charter. He’s a team co-captain, along with a highly skilled junior marking back, Sam Agre. Back-up keeper Andrew Verti is at the opposite end of the age spectrum, only an eighth-grader.
Agre is part of a strong 11th grade class that includes 2010 starters Josh Cannon, Ray Vandegrift, and Zach Weinberg. Etienne Dumas, Ted Foley, and Ed McLaughlin made frequent game appearances last season, and this year’s group of juniors is rounded out by Tyler Gottlieb and David Kotch. Current sophomores Sean O’Brien and Matt Sullivan were already starting midfielders as freshmen, and their classmates Cole Brown, Brad Jones, and Ian Reagan logged plenty of varsity minutes last fall, as well. Looking impressive in the O’Hara scrimmage, Jones could be ready to make major steps this season. A sixth sophomore, Devon James, also appears on the PC roster this year.
Vandegrift’s ninth-grade brother, James, saw varsity action in the O’Hara scrimmage last week.
“He played well today, and so did [fellow freshmen] Adi Cripe and Luke Zieger,” DiBenedetto said. “We have a tough non-league schedule, like we always do, and the young guys will have to continue to get better. I think by the time we get into the league games, we’ll have a lot of players who are ready to contribute.”