by Tom Utescher
A full slate of pre-season scrimmages has been lined up for the boys’ soccer team at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, and that will be very useful since the squad has undergone significant changes since last fall.
Two weekends ago, the team engaged in multi-team invitational events on Friday and Saturday, and last Monday SCH took a jaunt over to Abington High School for a one-on-one scrimmage under game conditions.
Unable to finish a number scoring chances, the visitors found themselves trailing the Ghosts 2-0 at halftime, then got one goal back in the second period for a 2-1 final.
Springside Chestnut Hill graduated seven players from its 2013 Inter-Ac League runner-up team, and among them were first team All-Inter-Ac selections Alec Greenhalgh and Anthony Liddy, along with their fellow tri-captain, Phil Kelly. In addition, a reserve defender who was a junior did not come out for the team this year, and then-sophomore Padgett Gustavson, an emerging scoring threat and midfield connector, moved to the West Coast with his family.
Returning for his sixth season as SCH head coach, alum Joe DiSalvo likes to refer to his charges by the ancient Chestnut Hill Academy nickname, the Hillers. The school’s sports teams have been known as the Blue Devils for decades now, but that kind of sticks in the craw of DiSalvo, who played for the University of North Carolina and thus considered the Duke Blue Devils to be an archenemy.
His new assistant coach this year is another former CHA player, Taylor Ferry (’08), who was a member of the last soccer team at the school to win the Inter-Ac championship (in 2007). Back for a second year on the staff are Brian Zalasky and Tom Stackhouse.
Although SCH goalie Sam McDowell is still only a junior, he has already been named to the All-Inter-Ac first team twice. Two second team picks are back for the Hillers, forward José Contreras and midfielder Christian Williams. They are team tri-captains this fall, along with fellow senior Peter Davis, a defender.
Rounding out the returning seniors is reserve goalkeeper Jay Regam, and several of his classmates have moved up to varsity. Michael Bown, who saw varsity time as a sophomore but did not play last fall, started in the Abington scrimmage last week along with the three captains, and completing the Class of 2015 are Liam Cook, Sam Grasso, Mac McHugh, and Rheon Trim.
All seven juniors on the 2014 roster were varsity players a year ago. McDowell, Tim Booth, Blake Greenhalgh (brother of the graduated Alec), Billy Harris and Harrison Kapp have been starting in scrimmages, and the other 11th-grade veterans are Hunter Ferry (cousin of Coach Ferry) and Henry Kelly (brother of Phil).
Sophomore starters Jack Lamb and Andy Stackhouse (nephew of Coach Stackhouse and son of former Spring Garden College great Andy Stackhouse) were already having an impact at the varsity level a year ago. Two of this year’s freshmen, Michael Buck and Tague Harmaty, have made the varsity, and sophomores Malcolm Glendinning and Luke Stauffer and freshman Luke Vogelmen are listed on the initial roster as junior varsity/varsity swing players.
In the Abington scrimmage on Tuesday, August 26, SCH attacked at the outset, and in the first seven minutes Contreras had two shots strike the Ghosts’ crossbar, one off a foot and another off his head. Near the middle of the period, Abington goalie Sam Wells had to leap and twist in the air to save a flick by Kapp, and just after that Lamb tapped a short shot just wide of the right post.
Abington stepped up later in the opening period, and got on the board with 10:30 remaining as Kevin Weintraub beat a defender going through the middle and put the ball past McDowell near the right post. On another run straight at the cage, Weintraub completed the home team’s scoring for the day just over two minutes before halftime, so the tally stood at 2-0 at the intermission.
After hitting a promising shot a little too far to the right early in the second stanza, SCH’s Williams netted his team’s lone goal with 23:30 remaining in the scrimmage. The Hillers rushed several men up across the 18 and Contreras flicked the ball ahead to Williams on the right side. Abington’s Wells moved out past the right post to challenge the shot and the SCH captain poked the ball past him into the middle of the goal.
The scored remained 2-1, although each team had opportunities to score as the bout wound down. The Ghosts sprung Dave Pohle loose on a break through the middle, but SCH’s McDowell came out just in time to snatch the ball away from the forward’s feet. On a restart in the final minute, the Hillers arced a threatening serve in at the cage, but an Abington back headed the ball out of danger.