The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

October 9, 2012

Jon Gerardi's high school soccer column: Thoughts as season nears end


Daily Item

---- — The high school soccer season is wrapping up here shortly -- less than two remain in the regular season -- so why borrow an idea from Peter King and our sports editor Bill Bowman and write about what I think I think at this point in the season:

I think the Warrior Run girls are arguably the most solid girls team.

Yes, I know what you're thinking, 'that's an obvious one!' But hey, it's true. I've seen them play a few times now and the team as a whole is just terrific. The Defenders lost a four-year starter in goal with Reda Vermilya, but anyone that has gotten the chance to see these two-time defending state champions play know that freshman Olivia George hasn't missed a step.

Against Southern Columbia last week, I saw George make three clutch saves in the final six minutes to preserve the Defenders' 1-0 lead against a good Tigers squad, which shows to me George is more than comfortable in the goal.

Taylor Landis is easily one of the best girls players in the area. The senior was peppering Southern Columbia's goalie all day last week and not only does she lead the Defenders with goals, but she's near the top in the area as well.

While Landis may be the team's leading scorer, junior Chloe Eisenhuth is right up there as well, helping the Defenders offense score. Despite her size, she's a fiery competitor who isn't afraid to go up against taller players and fight for 1v1 balls, and often comes away with them.

"One hundred percent of the game she'll run through the ball. She'll try to get it, she'll never back off and she'll jump for every head ball even though she's the shortest one out there," Warrior Run coach Jen Allen said after Warrior Run's 2-0 win over Loyalsock in late September.

I think the Selinsgrove girls are kind of flying under the radar right now.

The Seals are a solid team this year, already having clinched a District 4 postseason berth, but they aren't exactly hogging all the headlines, but maybe that's how the Seals like it. The Seals are 11-2 overall and 8-2 in the HAC-I, sharing joint custody of first place with Montoursville.

Anyone who has seen this squad play knows how talented Jenna Fisher is for Selinsgrove. She's an all-around playmaker and not only can be a scoring threat, but can set up plays and help others get open when the defenses key in on her.

After a two-goal performance on Monday against Lewisburg, Fisher now has 12 on the season. And Fisher is just one of Selinsgrove's best offensive players. Alicia Torruella can also make plays for this talented and fast team.

And as good as Selinsgrove is offensively, defensively they may just be talented. Jess Lawton may easily be the leader in saves this season (although I don't have the statistics all compiled just yet.) But let's just say that through what I have, Lawton is far ahead of anyone else.

If the Seals keep playing the way they have and stay solid in all facets of the game, I think Selinsgrove could make a nice run in the postseason.

I think the Danville boys may have the best goalie in the area.

With no disrespect to George (Warrior Run) and Lawton (Selinsgrove), one of the area's best goalies may just be Danville's Chris Dempsey, and for good reason. The senior broke the school record for shutouts, and has seven already through 2012.

If you look at the numbers, there are 12 goalies ahead of him on the boys side with more saves, but you can't hold that against Dempsey. He may not have the most saves, but Dempsey's defense doesn't give any opposing offenses a chance to take a lot of shots at Dempsey.

I think the Allegheny Christian Athletic Association may have the best scorers.

The other day I was compiling a list of leaders for goals, assists and saves. One thing I noticed is that the ACAA has some talented players. Now, no disrespect to anyone in District 4, but schools like Northumberland Christian (19-1-1 overall, 12-0 Eastern Division) and Sunbury Christian (10-4-2, 7-2-2) have plenty of kids who can score at will it seems.

Zach Newbury and David Mahoney of Northumberland Christian occupy the top two spots in the area so far through 2012 with 30 and 24 goals, respectively.

What was more impressive to me, however, is how many kids from Northumberland Christian are among the top assists leaders.

Mahoney has 11 assists for Northumberland Christian, and is trailed by Newbury and Micah Scanzillo, both with 10. Selinsgrove's Chuck Pealer also has 10.

Below those four? Another Northumberland Christian player, Dan Severn, with 8.

All that said, it indicates to me at least that Northumberland Christian has a potent offense that can spread the ball around with ease.

And just throwing it out there: Patrick Slackman has 95 saves for Sunbury Christian this year, ahead of Milton's Brian Brennan (87).

Not too shabby.

I think freshmen are stepping up.

It's always a good thing to see a freshman making an impact, regardless of sport. I can name two freshmen who are stepping up so far this year, both goalies.

I already talked about George, but there's another freshman keeper in Lewisburg who's making just as much of an impact.

You may remember from a prior column regarding Lewisburg goalie Logan Cho playing well this year. While that may not be impressive to some, remember whom he is replacing. That would be the four-year starter Christian Gallagher, Pennsylvania's all-time shutout leader, a three-time HAC-I All-Star, a two-time Daily Item All-Star first-team selection, a 2009 second-team selection and the Daily Item's 2011 Player of the Year.

Cho though has been solid for Lewisburg and the Green Dragons are 10-1-1 overall and 7-1-1 in the HAC-I.

Like the column said, these are some things that I think I know and hey, I may be wrong. Let the discussions amongst yourselves begin. I just wish I had more space to ramble.

n Jon Gerardi covers high school soccer for The Daily Item. Email comments to jgerardi@dailyitem.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/jonidial.