Northeast Times

Washington, N.E. lead boys Public soccer pack

Start­Frag­ment

Ed­it­or’s note: The North­east Times ori­gin­ally planned to pub­lish the boys Pub­lic League soc­cer pre­view last week on­line, but held off a week un­til it could be placed in the print edi­tion in most cir­cu­la­tion zones. We apo­lo­gize for the con­fu­sion, and ap­pre­ci­ate the read­ers’ pa­tience dur­ing this busy time in NE Philly sports.

As is the case at the end of every sum­mer, ex­cite­ment is abound with the new fall sports sea­son, and this is no dif­fer­ent in the case of boys soc­cer in the Pub­lic League. The league con­sists of six re­spec­ted area pro­grams vy­ing for po­s­i­tion and re­spect in an ever-chal­len­ging Pub­lic land­scape. Once again, the boys of George Wash­ing­ton, North­east, Frank­ford, Lin­coln, Fels and Frank­lin Towne Charter will be­gin the sea­son with hope for a cham­pi­on­ship; most im­port­antly, they hope to com­pete hard and en­joy the throes of an­oth­er fant­ast­ic sea­son.

Here’s a closer look:

George Wash­ing­ton

Last sea­son: 13-1-1, won Pub­lic League cham­pi­on­ship

Ex­cel­lence in boys soc­cer has be­come the norm for the Eagles, whose only loss last year came at the hands of LaS­alle in the city title game. It won’t come easy, es­pe­cially after los­ing six starters, in­clud­ing top scorers Wilo Mim­bar (gradu­ation, now at Man­or Col­lege) and Mo­hamed Conde, who trans­ferred to Fath­er Judge.

At press time, the Eagles won their first four games, and are do­ing so by start­ing two fresh­men and four sopho­mores. Two-year starter Mo­bin Ab­dul (a nat­ive of Afgh­anistan) is a seni­or lead­er on de­fense, while Marco Naco, of Al­bania, is also ex­pec­ted to be a con­trib­ut­or on the back line. Ry­an Stevens (a Ry­an trans­fer) and Seri­ah Woteh (a three-year starter) are ex­pec­ted to play big roles, as are two young­sters in Cris­ti­an Bur­team (Ro­mania) and Stefan Ko­privica (Ser­bia).

“My philo­sophy is to put the best 11 guys out there that give us the best chance to win,” coach Chris Re­id said. “It takes time — we have 24 guys from 18 dif­fer­ent coun­tries, so now we’re just go­ing over sup­port­ing each oth­er out there on the field and com­mu­nic­at­ing. For me, I want to be jelling by the end of Oc­to­ber, and we’ll be on the same page in a few weeks. I’ve played here, and now I’ve coached here, and our goal is al­ways to win a cham­pi­on­ship. That hasn’t changed.”

North­east

Last sea­son: 11-2-1, lost in cham­pi­on­ship game

The Vik­ings took a heart­break­ing loss in last year’s title game to Wash­ing­ton. Know­ing this is their head coach’s last sea­son, they are hop­ing for the op­pos­ite res­ult this time around.

Long­time teach­er and soc­cer/base­ball coach Sam Feld­man will re­tire at the end of the school years after 37 years as an edu­cat­or, and he ex­pects to go out on top. He will have a sol­id op­por­tun­ity led by seni­or cap­tain Andy Jean-Pierre, a striker; ju­ni­or cap­tain George Chavez, a ju­ni­or and cen­ter mid­field­er; and seni­or Chris Black, a cap­tain who Feld­man called a “big time” col­lege pro­spect. “Everything we do on the field re­volves around Chris,” he said.

“It’s spe­cial be­cause my last team will be the best one I’ve ever had,” Feld­man said. “Last year we felt we were the best team, so it’s un­fin­ished busi­ness for me and the kids. Our goal­tender situ­ation is a bit up in the air, so we’re go­ing to have an up-tempo of­fense and try to outscore every­one (so far, they have, 16-6, good for a 3-0 re­cord). And while we want to win, people that know me know that win­ning titles isn’t the end all be all. It’s clich&ea­cute;d and sappy, but I’d much rather have good kids than great ath­letes I don’t care for. It’s the life­time friend­ships that have made this all worth it.”

Fels

Last sea­son: 10-3, lost in semi­finals

Samuel Fels is mak­ing its way up the Pub­lic League rank­ings, even with hav­ing to play all their games on the road.

The Pan­thers, off to a 1-2 start, are still work­ing and wait­ing on op­er­able home fa­cil­it­ies at the school, and have play­ers from all over the globe, from Haiti to Africa; the team’s most ex­per­i­enced lead­ers are Arm­strong Quary­ee, Kirby Al­dophe and Joseph “Togo Joe” Am­ous­sou. Head coach George Ewerth is in his third year at the head of the pro­gram and is stress­ing edu­ca­tion in the classroom and team­work on the field be­fore any­thing else.

“We’re fam­ily over here, and I can’t say enough about how hard (prin­cip­al) Shawn McGuigan and (ath­let­ic dir­ect­or) Mark Heimerdinger have worked to sup­port all the kids,” Ewerth said. “We don’t have as much as some oth­er schools, but that doesn’t stop them. It’s a great group of kids, a lot of who have it really tough. We’d love to walk out the door and have our field be right there, but all we have is a soc­cer ball and each oth­er. You play the hand you’re dealt, and the sup­port from the ad­min­is­tra­tion has been above and bey­ond. We’ll see how it goes, but we ex­pect to com­pete.”

Lin­coln

Last sea­son: 7-6, lost in quarterfi­nals

The boys soc­cer pro­gram at Lin­coln has evolved in re­cent years, as the Railsplit­ters have transitioned from a me-first team of in­di­vidu­als to a sol­id core of team play­ers.

Lin­coln hopes to com­pete for a play­off spot in the rugged Pub­lic League. At the fore­front of the at­tack will be strikers Hashem Ab­dulraslol and Yader Es­pinosa; in the mid­field will be Wash­ing­ton Kim­ber, one of those afore­men­tioned in­di­vidu­als who vo­lun­teered to move to the middle to help the team; do-it-all play­er Kev­in John­son, also a kick­er on the foot­ball team and a star base­ball play­er, will an­chor the de­fense.

“Most likely, we should be a play­off team,” coach Neal Con­vey said. “We have the po­ten­tial to be very good, but do the guys want to work? For a lot of these guys, it’s been night and day since I first met them. Now, they want to step up and do what’s best for the team. We were middle of the pack last year, but we’ve im­proved and can be with those high­er ech­el­on teams if we keep work­ing hard.”

Frank­ford

Last sea­son: 1-10

Des­pite be­com­ing a foot­ball and base­ball power of late, there is deep his­tory rooted in the Frank­ford soc­cer pro­gram. Now, the Pi­on­eers are fo­cused on writ­ing a new chapter of suc­cess on the pitch.

So far, it’s worked, as they have outscored op­pon­ents 20-6 through three games, all wins. The team’s two most ex­per­i­enced play­ers are Mustafa Alghazza­wi, of Ir­aq, and Eric Salguero, of Guatem­ala. The team has also re­cruited sev­er­al Haitian play­ers while scour­ing the area for tal­en­ted, skilled and ex­per­i­enced play­ers.

“The biggest struggle has been find­ing ex­per­i­enced play­ers, but so far it’s gone well,” head coach Rob Shelton said. “The guys com­ple­ment each oth­er well. They’re good kids, and it’s my job to get them to come play. It’s a struggle from year to year, but it’s just a mat­ter of work­ing the hall­ways and get­ting to know the kids. We hope to make a play­off run.”

Frank­lin Towne Charter

Last sea­son: 6-7

With the girls soc­cer team bring­ing the cham­pi­on­ship home last sea­son, the boys pro­gram at Frank­lin Towne hopes to equal that suc­cess real soon.

Lead­ing the charge for Towne will be “Little” Bill Carter, a re­turn­ing second team All-Pub­lic se­lec­tion. Oth­er names to watch out for are Adam Span­gler, Chris McKendry, Chris Ham­mer­stein (the team’s second lead­ing scorer), Brandon McGuire and Marco Udovicki, a Ser­bi­an play­er whose sis­ter, Maja, plays for the girls team.

You can reach at emorrone@bsmphilly.com.

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