One step at a time: Boys soccer makes deep playoff run


George Zhang/The SPOKE

Leaping into action: Conestoga soccer players jump up to  ght for a 50/50 ball a er a corner kick in a playo soccer match against Council Rock North High School on Thursday Oct. 27. Conestoga  nished their playo run with a 2-0 loss to Seneca Valley in the state semi nals, ending a strong season adjusting to the loss of many key players who had graduated last year.

By Michael Tierney, Business Manager

There are three minutes and 43 seconds left in the match. The boys’ soccer team is down 2-0 to their archrivals and central league counterparts, Lower Merion High School. With all hope seemingly lost, the fans remain passionate for the team in the dwindling minutes. As the clock shows less than three minutes, the boys pile into the box for one of their renowned and deadly throw-ins. Senior Peter Miller steps up to launch the ball into the box, and like a hawk swooping in, junior Westin Fryberger rises above all to head the ball back into the net, giving the team a glimmer of hope. The boys found a spark of light in the darkness and scored two goals before the final buzzer. They eventually won with a goal in overtime from sophomore Cole Frederick. And the rest is history.

After their storybook victory over Lower Merion High School, the boys soccer team finished the regular season with a 14-2 record, losing to Radnor High School and Holy Ghost Preparatory School in close contests. They won their first three playoff games, but came up short in a 1-0 loss to Lower Merion High School in the district finals. The squad moved onto the states playoffs. Assistant coach Blake Stabert had a positive outlook on the playoffs and helped lead the team to their playoff success by emphasizing the boys’ mentality and focus.

“The mindset is if you win you get to play another game, and our goal is to win the next one. In the playoffs we just put all of our efforts, all of our focus, and all of our energy into the next game,” Stabert said.

The team lost a large number of seniors last year who made up a big part of the team, resulting in the end of their winning streak of over 40 matches this season. The last two matches of the regular season were some of their lowest scoring games with a 1-0 win over Harriton High School and a 1-0 loss to Radnor High School. Junior Ethan Howard acknowledges the tumultuous end to the regular season with the losses, but despite these challenges, he focused on making a deep run in the district and state playoffs.

“We had a rough patch at the end of the normal season, so we knew we had to make some changes. We saw that our practices and coaches played a big role in making those adjustments. We just want to take it one step at a time,” Howard said. “We can’t be looking too far ahead when we’ve got games we know we got to win.”

Since then, the team defeated Council Rock North High School 2-0, Springford High School 2-0, and Pennridge High School 1-0. In the district finals they faced Lower Merion High School for the second time this season and lost 1-0. Despite the loss, the team still qualified for the state tournament, where they finished their season with a loss in the semifinals. Howard and Stabert were willing to put in the work necessary to make a successful playoff push.

“We’ve been developing that mindset of focusing on each play, each game and each moment and giving our best efforts,” Stabert said. “You can’t control everything, but we try to control what we can control. We sleep well, practice hard, know the game plan, and if you do all those things right you give yourself a pretty good chance to win.”

Even with the pressure of defending the district and state titles, the boys’ soccer team made it to the semifinals where they went down 2-0 to Seneca Valley.
“The great thing about this team is their belief in each other and the belief in the team,” Stabert said. “This is by far one of the hardest working teams we’ve ever had at Conestoga.”