Defense forms backbone of Quaker Valley soccer’s state title team

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Sunday, November 28, 2021 | 11:01 AM


They say defense wins championships in football.

The same could be applied to soccer.

Quaker Valley’s boys soccer team entered the postseason as the Section 4-2A champion. Not only were the Quakers unbeaten at 12-0 in the section, they did not allow a goal.

Remarkably, QV outscored the opposition 99-0 in its 12 section games. And the Quakers continued their stout defensive effort in the postseason.

Quaker Valley, which went 23-2 overall, allowed only three goals in four WPIAL playoff games, then impressively recorded four shutouts in the PIAA tournament.

“By allowing only three goals in the playoffs, having six shutouts and scoring 44 (plus the shootout victory),” QV coach J.J. Veshio said, “I think it let the rest of the league know that we are serious about playing good quality soccer.

“And we did just that.”

In all, the Quakers, who won section, WPIAL and PIAA crowns and ended the year on a 10-game winning streak, outscored the opposition 123-8 in the regular season, 27-3 in the WPIAL playoffs, 18-0 in PIAA action and 168-11 overall.

Quaker Valley blanked 10 of its first 11 opponents this season and ended up with 19 shutouts in 25 games, including nine in a row at one stretch.

The goalkeeping duo of senior Zach Buhr and junior Isaac Waller was flanked by a near-impenetrable defensive corps that included seniors Blaise Burns, Jhon-Fredy Krebs and Tim Smith, juniors Colin Wood and Ben Henry and sophomore Nick Allan.

Buhr logged a 0.50 goals-against average and 0.76 save percentage in 17 starts (including all eight playoff games).Waller started seven times and had a 0.125 GAA and 0.93 save percentage.

“Zach was incredibly confident going into the final and the shootout. I know it gave the boys a boost,” said Sean Ryan, one of two QV assistants along with Landon Grant, who played for the Quakers from 2014-17.

Ryan serves as goalie coach for the Quakers.

“For us, the goalkeeper department has been a whirlwind,” he said. “We started off the season with Zach recovering from a broken tibia; however, we ended the season with a serious shoulder injury to Isaac. Through these injuries, our level never dropped, and we were able to go from one to the other with complete confidence.

“Both goalkeepers are incredible competitors who push each other to be better, and more importantly, cheer on each other’s success.”

The Quakers allowed just 57 shots on goal all season — or less than three per game — and a total of 15 in eight playoff games. West Allegheny was the only opponent able to reach double figures.

Burns, Krebs, Smith, Henry and Allan were in the starting lineup in the team’s 1-0 shootout victory over Lewisburg in the PIAA championship game Nov. 18 at Hersheypark Stadium.

“I think the entire team plays a role in our success,” Veshio said, “but considering you don’t hear about the defense a lot because they don’t show up on the stats sheet, our back line was fantastic this year.

“Specifically, our outside backs, Jhon-Fredy Krebs, Nick Allan and Colin Wood, all played with such confidence and determination to win every 50-50 ball. Plus, their abilities on the ball allowed us to bring them up(field) offensively, which just added to our attack.”

QV’s defenders were joined against Lewisburg by Buhr, senior forwards Keller Chamovitz and Rowan Kriebel, and senior midfielders Kellen Auth, Ryan Edwards and Will Dunda.

“We played with a back four and two holding midfielders,” Ryan said. “Ben Henry was the most defensive of these two holding midfielders, which allowed Wil Dunda the freedom to create going forward. It is a simple yet incredibly physically and mentally demanding position.

“Our back four changed, first due to ingenuity, second due to necessity when Colin Wood sustained an injury. Our original back four of Jhon-Fredy, Nick, Blaise and Colin played very well together but left Tim Smith on the bench for a good deal of the season. We wanted a way to get Tim’s talent on the field as well to use the skills of our defenders more effectively. We were able to push Nick Allan out to right back and use him more to develop the attack.

“I would classify Blaise, Tim and Jhon-Fredy as dominant ball-winning defenders, players willing to throw themselves at the ball in order to win it back. Nick and Colin are incredible at bringing the ball forward to give the midfield room to push on and create a two-on-one somewhere along the flank.

“We knew we had the players to do it, and luckily they were intelligent enough to implement the change with lots of positive effect.”

Graham Thompson and Spencer Wiehe, both juniors, senior Grant Huddleston and sophomore Kiril Grin provided depth on defense as integral reserves.

“Although we did not often substitute our defenders,” Ryan said, “it was important to our team to have players like Graham, Spencer, Grant and Kiril. They were our second-team defenders and without them, we cannot train at the highest level.

“We cannot push ourselves if we do not have constant desire and ambition from our (non-starters), Tim Smith being a prime example.”

The Quakers defeated Burrell (5-1), East Allegheny (14-0), Ambridge (3-2) and North Catholic (5-0) in the WPIAL playoffs. QV then blanked Grove City (8-0), Somerset (7-0), North Catholic (2-0) and Lewisburg (1-0) in the state tournament.

No fewer than 20 players scored goals for QV this season.

Along with the team’s scoring leaders, Chamovitz, Kriebel, Edwards and Dunda, QV goal scorers included Smith, sophomore F Bennett Haas, Burns, senior MF Ian Morrison, Grin, Henry, Allan, sophomore F Cameron Diggins, freshman MF Jack Karwoski, freshman MF Carter Turk, Wiehe, senior F Luca Raymond, Auth, freshman MF Andrew Vescio, Huddleston and junior MF Jean Noel.

The Quakers have won 10 WPIAL titles and nine PIAA crowns in school history.

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