By Mark Matson ‘22 and Grant Hineman ‘22
The boys varsity soccer team has been looking to make it to the state playoffs since the beginning of the year – and they’re coming in hot. The boys had a successful regular season with a record of 14 wins, four losses, and one tie, and they are taking their winning streak into playoffs.
So far this season, senior captain Tommy Kelly has scored 12 goals and junior Michael Hughes has scored 20, only one goal away from tying the season record for the high school. Strong goalkeeping from junior Alex Dolce and senior Jack Murray also kept the team in check throughout the season.
Into the first round of district playoffs and they were up against a tough Penn Wood team. They snuck a 1-0 win that took them into the second round against the strong Harriton team. Putting up four goals against Harriton’s one secured them a spot in the quarterfinal round and a chance to go into the state playoffs. Expecting to face defending state champions and first seed Conestoga was sure to be a challenge; however, underdog Council Rock North upset Conestoga and sent them home early.
Unionville cruised through Council Rock North and their next game was against Abington. They stepped up to the challenge but fell just short in a 2-1 loss. Despite this loss, their rank in districts secured them a spot in the state tournament. Unionville is sure to be a dangerous team in states and have their eyes set on their first game against Springford.
Tommy Kelly, a senior and captain of the team, kept a strong message about the season during an interview. When asked about the goals of the team going into the season, Kelly responded, “We had very high aspirations coming in. We wanted to win the league and make a run in the district and state playoffs.”
The team accomplished winning the league and making a run in the district playoffs, but unfortunately, they lost in the district semi-finals to Abington 3-2. Though the stakes are high at the state playoffs, the team has high hopes still.
When asked how far he thought the team would go in state playoffs, Kelly said, “Obviously we want to win it all, but we have to take it one step at a time. We have to win one game and then focus on the next.” The same idea was presented throughout the regular season and will most likely continue with the program.
When asked how the team has handled adversity during the season, Kelly said, “There was a big stretch of three to four games where we lost. We stayed together, stayed positive and remained confident that we could get back on track.” The boys held tight and only lost one more game for the remainder of the season.
Kelly kept to his message about the focus the team has had throughout the season in terms of skill and chemistry with each other. “Being positive and supportive of one another was a major key in our success and progression. Even when we lost we still learned. For example, we lost a close game to Conestoga but being able to play well in that game showed us that we could always compete. I also think our bench is a big part of our progression; they all support the starters and each other. With them being able to buy in and compete made us better.”
Varsity soccer is one of the tightest knit teams the high school has to offer. In regards to student support at games, Kelly said, “It means a lot. It’s incredible to see a large student section. Even at rainy, cold games, we have a big student section, and it really means a lot.”
The boys have been through a lot this year: success and disappointment. Being able to push through the disappointment made the team what it is, and everyone at the high school supports them wherever they go next.