by Tom Utescher
Springside Chestnut Hill Academy was able to close out the soccer season on a positive note on November 12, knocking off Inter-Ac League champion Malvern Prep, 2-1. With the victory, the Blue Devils ended up 14-9-1 overall and brought their final league record up close to the .500 mark at 4-5-1, while becoming the only team to defeat the Friars during the 2011 Inter-Ac campaign.
“Malvern was missing a couple of guys, who I think were playing with their club teams,” said SCHA coach Joe DiSalvo, “but it was still a good way for us to end our season and leave our younger guys with a positive feeling going into next year.”
Noting that the team finished 6-15-1 in his first season in 2009 and went 7-11-4 last fall, DiSalvo said, “I think we’ve turned the corner with the program, and I give a lot of the credit for that to the 11 seniors we had on the team this year. They bought into what I was trying to do over the last couple of years and helped us build up to this point. Some of those guys were starters, and some saw younger kids start ahead of them, but they all played important roles for us and all worked for the good of the team as a whole.”
The final week of competition in the league began with a 1-1 tie against Germantown Academy on November 7. SCHA senior Alex deBerardinis opened the scoring, and later sophomore Matt Miller evened it up for the Patriots, who would go on to finish the season 3-5-2 in the Inter-Ac and 8-9-4 overall.
Out at Malvern in Saturday’s season finale, the Devils were the early aggressors once again. Dan Trulear drew first blood with an assist from fellow senior Danny Hull, then junior Tim Ogle made it 2-0 by converting off of a pass by sophomore Anthony Liddy. Senior Drew Mulhern got the Friars on the board before halftime, and the 2-1 score stuck until the final whistle.
Despite missing a few games due to a foot injury, Hull emerged as the leading scorer for SCHA, with 17 goals and eight assists on the season. At the other end of the field another upperclassman, Sam Feirson, was a first-year starter in goal. Nevertheless, he came up big for the Devils, posting a goals-against average of just 0.98 throughout the 2011 campaign while recording nine shutouts. Just in front of him was his classmate, outside back Mike Duffey, lending his experience to an otherwise youthful defensive foursome for the Devils.
In addition to the players already mentioned, the senior class included Kyle Espenshade, Chris Rosenberg, Shawn Wilson, Matt Fink, Sam Sheppard, and Johnny Wyche.
While Penn Charter was a young squad this year and will have most of its talent back on the field next fall, most other league teams, including SCHA, will be coping with significant graduation losses going into the 2012 season.
Still, DiSalvo feels his younger Devils benefitted from being part of this year’s successful franchise.
“One of the steps we’d like to take from here,” DiSalvo said, “is to win more of the one-goal games that went against us. Out of our nine losses, only one was by more than one goal [an 0-2 setback at GA in the Inter-Ac opener], and we gave up some of those goals late in the second half or in overtime. When you think about it, we weren’t very far away from having a really special season.”