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Soccer: Younger Lions still roar loudly

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Just three players on the Faith Christian 23-man soccer roster are seniors.

Yet Faith Christian still looks like Faith Christian, the side that has made two consecutive appearances in the class A PIAA finals, winning one.

“I think these guys are a little hungrier than last year’s team, who was a little older,” noted Faith head coach Ryan Clymer last Thursday. “We have a lot of new guys and a lot of young guys. I think they have something to prove on their own. They are hungry for it.

“Anyone can play,” he continued. “We had six guys step in today and didn’t lose a beat tempo-wise. They are fighting for playing time so when you have depth, that helps the practices and the matches.”

The 2022 Lion apple did not fall far from the championship tree. At press time, the Lions (7-2) were ranked first in District One A, and had outscored their six class A/2A opponents 37-2.

“It’s tradition. We take pride in the way we play soccer,” Clymer credited. “I think our junior high program has lost two games in three years. Those guys come out and watch our varsity play and the varsity watched guys four years ahead of them play. Winning breeds winning and when you are used to winning and you know what it takes, you start that tradition and path, you work hard and good things are going to happen.”

On a blustery afternoon last Thursday, the young Lions took care of business in a 7-0 win over Plumstead Christian. Faith opened up a 4-0 lead by the time the game was nine minutes old. Panthers keeper D.J. Glass did a noteworthy job of limiting the damage in the game’s final 70 minutes.

“Our team had intensity off the rip. We came out playing super hard,” said Titus Gardner. “We wanted this game a lot because (Plumstead) always plays us hard.”

“I thought we brought energy in warm-ups and on the bus ride here,” added defender Lincoln Waltenbaugh. “Plumstead always comes to play us. This is their big game of the year and we knew we couldn’t underestimate them. We came ready to play and play hard.”

Gardner’s brace – he scored seven minutes in and again with 10:00 left in the half on a header from a corner kick – made him the lone Lion to tally twice.

“We’re definitely a share the wealth team,” Gardner explained. “On any given day, anyone can have two or three guys. It doesn’t depend on one guy. We’re trying to give up the ball to whoever has the best shot.”

Waltenbaugh, the junior captain, knows what it takes to keep the Lion tradition roaring.

“A shout out to our coaches first. They always prepare us well during the preseason and all throughout the summer,” Waltenbaugh attributed. “They get us strong, healthy and ready to play at the beginning of the season. Also, the players who came before us taught us well. We lost a bunch of seniors but this isn’t a bounce back season. We’re ready to go again.”

Despite the setback, the Panthers (5-5) are still in the logjam for the sixth and final district playoff spot. There is a lot of soccer left to be played.

“We have a good core group of seniors that has seen predominantly full games from start to finish. We have a good group of freshmen who came up and a lot of good players in between,” noted Panthers coach Mike McFadden.

Plumstead won a dozen games and advanced to the district finals last season. “We worked on creating the shape and continuing the philosophies that were put into place by coach (Michael) Price over the previous years. I think they’re doing a good job with that,” McFadden continued. “I think we prepared pretty well for this game and this level of competition and it will only strengthen us going forward.”

The Panthers rebounded to best Bicentennial foe Phil-Mont Christian 2-1 on Tuesday, putting their record at .500. Juniors Tommy Jacoby and Matt Earl both scored.

“They’re a very good group of boys,” McFadden added. “They edify the Lord in their actions in preparing for their games, and in reactions to both wins and losses. We couldn’t be happier with who they are as young men and we have a lot of schedule left, so we’re excited about that.”

High school soccer

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