Coaches and players alike often use the word “family” when talking about their teams.
They use it metaphorically to describe the inner dynamics, communication and trust built over time between a head coach and his charges.
When that familial sense disappeared the last two seasons for the girls soccer team at Central Bucks West, the Bucks turned to one of their own for help.
It’s what a family usually does when a need arises.
In stepped Mike Moyer, Class of 1993 alumnus, and member of the school’s soccer Hall of Fame. His caring, no-nonsense approach seems to have stabilized a program that went from winning the Class 3A state championship in 2014 to going 0-12 in the Suburban One League Continental Conference in 2016.
Moyer is the third head coach in the last six seasons at the Doylestown school.
It’s been a bit of a roller-coaster ride for CB West since coach Chris Freudig stepped away in 2012 after 22 seasons.
Since taking over midway through last season, Moyer has the Bucks playing together again.
The proof is on the pitch, where the Bucks are right near the top of the SOL Continental, and having already earned a win over perennial power Pennridge.
But more importantly, family is a central theme – literally.
Moyer’s daughter, Taylor, a talented freshman forward for the Bucks, scored the team’s first goal a week ago in a 4-1 defeat of overmatched Quakertown under the lights at War Memorial Field.
It came off a perfectly placed assist from standout junior Ryan Fitzsimmons, who also netted a goal, and is one half of a dynamic duo with sister Erin, who contributed a goal and two assists in the victory.
“(Erin) has been working so hard in the middle of the field,” Mike Moyer said. “For her to get a goal, it’s been a long time coming.
“And Ryan is just dominating the outside.”
Senior Alex Craine capped the scoring with a nifty volley kick off a crossing pass from Erin Fitzsimmons. The Bucks blew open the game with three goals in the final 40 minutes following a lackluster first half, when they held a tenuous 1-0 lead.
Erin said the Bucks are enjoying playing soccer again with Moyer at the helm after a tumultuous few seasons.
“It’s been huge. We are just so excited to have a winning mentality,” she said. “We look forward to practice every day. We look forward to games. We want to be on the field. We want to play with each other.
“(Before) it was just a different mindset. We weren’t in it to win it every day like we should’ve been.”
The Panthers are in the midst of their own transition. After dominating the smaller-school ranks of the SOL American Conference, Quakertown was reclassified this season by the governing PIAA, which forced the Panthers to compete with the larger schools in the Continental.
In his ninth season, Quakertown coach Mike Koch knows it’s an uphill battle for his club, which remained winless with the loss.
“It’s a hard jolt right now, but we can compete in this league,” he said.
“The speed of this league is an adjustment. We just need to fight through and continue to strive to get better.”
Panthers junior Maddy Spadafora scored on a slide kick to prevent the shutout.