After the first week of boys' soccer competition in the Inter-Ac League, GA head coach Kurt Wetzel observed, "It's business as usual."
After the first week of boys' soccer competition in the Inter-Ac League, Germantown Academy head coach Kurt Wetzel observed, "It's business as usual."
Anyone with familiar with the historical pattern of play in the Inter-Ac knows that Wetzel's remark is another way of saying that every game's going to be a battle.
Of the six contests played between the six league members last week, all but one were decided by a single goal. Haverford School, which won the 2022 Inter-Ac championship with a record of 7-2-1, topped the standings last weekend. The Fords' 2-0 record reflected a 2-1 win over Penn Charter in Tuesday's opener and then a 2-0 victory against Springside Chestnut Hill Academy on Friday.
Wetzel's GA squad, which succumbed to SCH, 2-1, on Tuesday and then notched a 1-0 win over Malvern Prep, shared a 1-1 record at week's end with SCH, Penn Charter, and Episcopal Academy, while Malvern was 0-2.
Tuesday's skirmish involving Springside Chestnut Hill and visiting GA reached halftime with the score still 0-0. In the second half, a successful penalty kick by Blue Devils junior Michael Glennon was answered in kind by Patriots senior Aiden Trabosh. The issue was decided in the Blue Devils' favor when senior Peter Shea sent a free kick from the outside to the front of the GA cage, where freshman Gio D'Angelo put the ball away.
In 2021, Germantown had captured the Inter-Ac crown with a record of 8-2 after starting out 0-2. After last Tuesday's loss at SCH, Wetzel emphasized to his charges that GA's 8-0 run two seasons earlier had been a rare feat in the Inter-Ac, and that the Patriots needed to set their sights on ending the week with a 1-1 mark.
In the first minute of Friday's game, GA earned a corner kick from the right side. Senior Cole Snell (team captain along with classmate Ryan Szczepkowski) put the ball in play but the Patriots couldn't get off a shot.
Later on, Malvern made several dangerous crosses. With 27 minutes left in the first half, senior Rhett Bower made a run down the right wing and launched a strong shot that strayed just outside of the left post of the Germantown cage.
GA's Trabosh, who'd scored the goal against SCH, was very active in the midfield and handled the ball adeptly. However, with Malvern marking closely in the middle of the pitch, Patriot players who hesitated before distributing the ball often found Friars right in their faces. It didn't help that GA's regular center back, junior J.T. Quinter, was away on a college visit.
"Malvern pressed us effectively, and we knew that was coming," Wetzel commented.
The GA mentor and longtime assistants Michael Torrey and Matt Rominger all stressed the same points at halftime, when the score was still 0-0.
Wetzel summed up, "We were slow, we were a touch off, and we were taking too many touches. We weren't finding open men, and we were letting them get too close.
"We needed to get back to playing three-touch soccer," he continued, "and we needed to raise our intensity."
In the second half, play ranged up and down the field again, but the Patriots displayed more poise and control when they had possession of the ball.
Less than seven minutes in, mutual yellow cards were handed out, and soon after the teams returned to full strength, a GA cross glanced off a Malvern defender. There appeared to have been a hand ball violation and GA argued for one, but there was no call.
After another few minutes went by, Snell got off a promising shot from the right side, but the ball traveled outside of the near post.
As the middle of the period approached, the Pats slipped a pass to senior Roan Harrington on a run up the middle. He had some room to maneuver, and he beat the one defender in front of him before scoring as Malvern goalie Dean Howard advanced out of the cage. The lone goal of the afternoon went up on the board with 21:52 remaining in the match.
Over the next five minutes or so, junior Robby Bright and Snell each got off well-struck shots from the right side of the box. On the second one, Snell's, Malvern's Howard prevented GA from adding an insurance goal with a diving leap to his right to deflect the ball outside of the far post.
Under 10 minutes remained when Malvern fired a shot from the right side and senior Josh Bouchard, Germantown's senior keeper, swatted the ball away. Overall, GA was getting a solid defensive effort, and on the left wing sophomore Quinlan Rink excelled.
Soon after a Malvern free kick led to an errant header with 90 seconds left, the Patriots were celebrating their first Inter-Ac win. They'd recovered to a 1-1 mark, and it was back to business as usual in the league.