Judge’s Hansen wraps up All-American season

Cherry on top: After win­ning a Cath­ol­ic League title with his best friends, Fath­er Judge’s Joey Hansen (third from left) was named an All-Amer­ic­an. TIMES FILE PHOTO

Con­sid­er­ing how well the Fath­er Judge soc­cer sea­son went in 2013, it’s no sur­prise that Joey Hansen has been able to add a few suf­fixes to his name.

First came Joey Hansen, Cath­ol­ic League cham­pi­on; then came Joey Hansen, city cham­pi­on. Amidst all this ex­cite­ment, he be­came Joey Hansen, col­legi­ate soc­cer play­er, when he was awar­ded a soc­cer schol­ar­ship to at­tend La Salle Uni­versity in the fall. 

Hansen then gradu­ated to Joey Hansen, All-State se­lec­tion, which is im­press­ive enough in its own right giv­en how many tal­en­ted soc­cer play­ers are spread out across Pennsylvania. Then came the ul­ti­mate coup de grace that shows just how far Hansen and his team came in 2013: Joey Hansen, All-Amer­ic­an.

Hansen was one of 62 names on the Na­tion­al Soc­cer Coaches As­so­ci­ation of Amer­ica’s (NSCAA) All-Amer­ic­an list, one of three from the state of Pennsylvania and the only play­er from Phil­adelphia. The seni­or mid­field­er also got an op­por­tun­ity to play in Sat­urday’s Choice Ho­tels In­ter­na­tion­al High School All-Amer­ic­an East vs. West Soc­cer Game on Sat­urday in Down­ing­town.

“It’s crazy to be re­cog­nized on a na­tion­al level, and it really is just a great hon­or,” Hansen said by phone on Monday af­ter­noon. “I couldn’t have done it without my team, and it just makes it all worth it, be­ing able to share this with them. It’s the per­fect end­ing.”

The Cru­saders had a sea­son for the ages, win­ning 20 of their 22 games en route to Cath­ol­ic League and city titles. It al­lowed Hansen and his seni­or class­mates to leave the school on top after fail­ing to bring home the trophy in two pre­vi­ous title game at­tempts. It was an es­pe­cially ful­filling ride for Hansen and his three seni­or co-cap­tains — fel­low mid­field­er Ry­an Nork (also a La Salle com­mit), de­fend­er Joey Malves­tuto and goalie Dan Sulp­iz­io — who met in grade school and be­came best friends while they en­vi­sioned cap­tur­ing a Cath­ol­ic League soc­cer cham­pi­on­ship be­fore they ever even stepped in­to the school as fresh­men.

“When we were young, we star­ted play­ing to­geth­er and we al­ways thought we would be the best,” Hansen re­called. “But to ac­tu­ally get there years later and not only win it, but do­ing it with your broth­ers, that’s something that will stick with us for the rest of our lives.”

Hansen is in­tense on the field, and good-natured and easy­going off it. It’s not in his nature to harp on in­di­vidu­al ac­com­plish­ments, so it was no sur­prise that he didn’t ar­rog­antly puff his chest out in a boast­ing man­ner once he was named All-Amer­ic­an.

That, his high school head coach said, is not what Hansen is all about.

“That’s typ­ic­al of Joey … he doesn’t think of him­self,” John Dun­lop said. “He al­ways puts his team­mates first, be­cause he knows he’s not an All-Amer­ic­an if those guys wer­en’t as good as they were. He’s a humble boy, and noth­ing shakes or both­ers him. It’s a thrill for me, for him and the school.”

And while the even-keeled Hansen wasn’t ne­ces­sar­ily burst­ing at the seams with ex­cite­ment, Dun­lop was. 

“To tell you the truth, these last few days I’ve felt like a kid at Christ­mas,” Dun­lop said. “You can’t be­lieve how ex­cited people are for him, and what a tre­mend­ous hon­or this is. It’s so dif­fi­cult to get there be­cause there’s so many great ball­play­ers in this coun­try, but it’s the re­sume he’s built the last four years. They have com­mit­tees that de­cide these things, and Joey’s name kept pop­ping up on their radar for a reas­on. He’s done everything that’s been asked of him.”

Dun­lop and Hansen both said the East-West game was a mem­or­able ex­per­i­ence giv­en the as­sembled tal­ent and all the snow that fell in the area in the last week. For Hansen, it was an­oth­er ac­col­ade to bookend and vin­dic­ate everything his team ac­com­plished in their time to­geth­er at the school. 

And of course, for his team­mates, it was an­oth­er thing to make fun of Hansen for, be­cause on a team that was this close, boys will most cer­tainly be boys.

“They thought it was cool, ba­sic­ally the greatest thing ever,” Hansen said of his team­mates’ re­ac­tion to the hon­or. “But they still make fun of me and said they’d go around brag­ging to people that they played with an All-Amer­ic­an. At the same time, I know that they know they were a huge part of it, and that we got to this point to­geth­er.”

For Dun­lop’s part, he be­lieves Hansen hasn’t even scratched the sur­face with how good he can be as a col­legi­ate soc­cer play­er and later down the line to an adult con­trib­ut­ing something to so­ci­ety. Hansen fin­ished his Cru­saders ten­ure ranked fourth in ca­reer points (59), eighth in ca­reer goals (17) and second in ca­reer as­sists (25), but, as Dun­lop said, “His in­di­vidu­al stats aren’t great, but it’s the oth­er little things he does that makes the team great.”

“He’s very un­selfish, he knows he can’t do it by him­self,” Dun­lop said. “He doesn’t walk around say­ing, ‘I’m Joey Hansen, I’ve done this and I’ve done that.’ All the awards he’s won has ac­tu­ally made him a bet­ter kid, and he brings that per­son­al­ity where oth­er guys feel it and see it and want to feed off him. It’s a test­a­ment to who he is as a per­son. Some of it’s tim­ing, and some of it’s luck, but he’s taken ad­vant­age of every op­por­tun­ity this school has giv­en him. It couldn’t hap­pen to a bet­ter kid.”

Hansen will be honored as an All-Amer­ic­an at a lunch­eon later this week, but really what he cares most about at this point is soak­ing up his last few months at a school that means the world to him. While Hansen knows he and Nork will be team­mates for the next four sea­sons at La Salle, he also un­der­stands that col­lege will pull oth­er Fath­er Judge friends in dif­fer­ent dir­ec­tions, and he wants to cher­ish the time he has left with them.

“It went by faster than people say it does, and I don’t want to leave, even though I know I have to,” Hansen said. “It’s weird just go­ing to school and then com­ing home, but I still see the guys and J.D. (Dun­lop). 

“All-Amer­ic­an is an hon­or that has my name on it, but I know my team­mates and coaches got me there. Fath­er Judge em­phas­izes fam­ily, which is fit­ting, be­cause we be­came broth­ers. For me, it’s easy to pass the torch and share it with them.” ••

You can reach at emorrone@bsmphilly.com.

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