Balance key for Quaker Valley boys soccer

Monday, September 25, 2017 | 11:00 PM

A loss in the PIAA Class A championship was disappointing — but not devastating — for the Quaker Valley boys soccer team.

Actually, that 1-0 setback to Lewisburg in Hershey last November gave the Quakers some momentum this fall.

“I think it all started last year, after coming in second in the state. That set the tempo for what we want to be,” Quaker Valley senior captain Ian Rodgers said. “Coach (Andrew) Marshall pushes us really hard in practice. But we want to be the best in Double-A in all the state, so we're keeping our expectations pretty high.”

Winning a state crown is Quaker Valley's ultimate goal. While that remains far off in the distance, the Quakers are working toward it with a vengeance. The team won its first eight matches of the year.

“I think a lot of it is we take confidence from being able to make such a good playoff run with us, but we are also humbled by how the season ended. It was still a great run and a great season, but we want to keep going and make it one step further,” Quaker Valley senior captain Caleb Bender said. “We made it there, but we didn't finish the job. I think we're looking to finish that.”

With a lot of their players back and a strong start established, the Quakers are among the early favorites to contend for a state title.

“It's a good start. But in order to be a state championship team, it has to be better than what we had last year,” senior captain Bando Grant said. “I think we still have more to give.”

Quaker Valley began the year with a 2-0 run at the East-West Classic. It swept Exeter Township, 4-1, and Fleetwood, 5-0, after going 0-1-1 against the programs last season. The squad continued its strong start in Section 4-AA with a 5-0 run (8-0 overall). In its first eight matches, QV outscored the opposition 48-2.

“I love the start we've had. We're undefeated, and we're trying to keep that going,” Bender said.

“As long as we can keep rifling goals in and keeping a clean sheet, then I am happy. It's as simple as that — we just have to keep doing the same thing.”

The Quakers enjoy a deep lineup, which overwhelms opponents.

“It's huge. You take off three guys and three other guys come on, and it looks like we didn't even pull anybody off,” Grant said. “There's so much chemistry between the guys. Everybody is pushing each other to play at the highest level because everybody wants to get on the field. With that mindset, everybody works together so well.

“It's so much fun right now. Scoring the goals is awesome, but just connecting with these guys is awesome. Even our trainings are awesome. Being together with these guys is great.”

Even though Quaker Valley can shuffle a lot of players in and out of the lineup, the chemistry remains strong.

“When you look at the field, you see a lot of different things. Not everyone is the fastest, tallest or strongest. But everyone can play with the ball at their feet and hit a pass and is confident. We connect with each other and keep moving the ball,” Bender said. “At this point, if we keep playing every game like it's the best effort we have to give, there's no telling how far we can go.”

Joe Sager is a freelance writer.


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