While Central Bucks South might have its third coach in three years, the big news is an insurgence of weapons on offense.
“We have a lot of firepower up top, which we didn’t have last year,” explained senior co-captain Jake Heilig. “We are producing goals, which is a good thing – we put six in against Bensalem and three in today.
“We look really good up top and we’re solidifying our back line so things are really coming together.
Heilig was one of two players to record a hat trick in a 6-1 season-opening triumph against Bensalem Aug. 30 on the Titans’ home pitch.
The other was sophomore A.J. Peev, who scored a go-ahead goal vs. William Tennent Sept 3. While William Tennent senior Joe Roller deadlocked the score at 2-all for the visitors with a strike off a feed from junior Mike Liddy in the 74th minute, CB South sophomore Tasso Malitas put the game-winner past Panthers keeper Pat Corley with just 3:23 to play in regulation.
CB South emerged with a 3-2 triumph, its second varsity win of the season against a non-league foe.
While sophomores like Peev and Malitas are coming through on offense, it’s true the team is loaded with senior talent – its 12th-graders number 16 in total.
“We do have a pretty deep bench with a lot of senior leadership – a lot of guys who have given the program at least three years,” stated Titans head coach Joe Coscia. “But I do think our team shows some youth and exuberance that is going to translate into success not only this season but also success in future seasons as well.”
Against Tennent at home, CB South was putting pressure on the Panthers’ goal late in the first half, so much so, it compelled a William Tennent defender to take down Peev in the box. That gave the home team a penalty kick and junior Corey Bethel made good on the shot to put the Titans on top, 1-0, in the 29th minute of play.
While CB South went into the half up 1-0, Tennent drew even early in the second half with a strike by junior Sean Metz off a feed from senior Dan Higgins.
That all changed when Heilig pushed a ball through to Peev streaking down the right side of the box. Peev blasted the ball home to put the Titans back on top. For nearly 18 minutes, the lead stood.
And while CB South allowed the Panthers to draw even once more, Malitas made sure the home team emerged with the win.
“He’s very good on his feet; he’s a big body and he knows how to play well on the ball,” said Heilig, of the goal by Malitas.
“He made a nice play and he put one home.
“He’s a nice finisher.”
The Titans kept the pressure on the Panthers’ goal until the end.
“We were doing a good job getting the outside mids up and in and I think we matched them in physicality and speed,” explained Heilig. “We did a good job adjusting our midfielders dropping back and that helped us supply our attackers up top and put some home.
“We didn’t put our heads down and give up because it was tied,” said senior goalkeeper Gavin Campbell. “We pushed through and two minutes later, we got the winning goal.”
“It was a good win for us,” said Heilig. “It really proved we can play through together to the end.
Junior Ryan Gross recorded the win in goal for the Titans, his second of the season between the pipes.
Last year, CB South finished 9-8 overall, 5-7 in the Suburban One Continental League. While the Titans waved goodbye to forward R.J. Visco, backfielder Julian Stewart and center-midfielder Kyle Bethel (Drew University), the big change was Coscia, a varsity assistant coming in for Jarett Cutsler, who held the post for just one campaign.
Coscia believes it’s been a smooth transition.
“They know my face – the seniors have known me their entire CB South career.
“If anything, I think it was an easier adjustment for them than the past year because they knew what I expected of them at the varsity level.
“They knew how I coached; they knew what to look for.”
In addition to the head coach, new on varsity this season for the Titans are midfielders Chris Ashenfelter, Nick Biello, Jeremy Brooks, Kyle Rychlak, Zach Buehl, Chris Hall and Colin O’Hara. New on defense are Chris Berry, Eric Leon and Jack Veith. Max DeAngelo is new up top along with Malitas.
While CB East won consecutive District One championships in 2014 and 2015 and CB West captured a D-1 crown last year, district gold has always eluded the Titans. The last time South made districts was in 2015 when the Black and Blue topped Harriton 4-0 before falling to West Chester Henderson 3-2 in the Round of 16.