Freshman Eli Barker kicks the ball away from a PJP player in last Friday's game at Upper Perk against Pope John Paul II.
The Upper Perk boys soccer team had one of those years where success was measured in small steps and moral victories.
With two games remaining at press time, the Tribe was in the midst of a 2-14 season, 2-10 in the PAC-10. Brandon Landis led the team in scoring with just three goals, and double digit losses indicated how overmatched the team was at times.
At Senior Night last evening, the program bid farewell to seven seniors who bore the brunt of a down cycle in area soccer.
“I feel bad for some of the guys that have come all the way through,” said Coach Matt Nomland. “All these kids are so used to losing.”
One player who played like a winner no matter what the score was goalkeeper Chris Mundy, who, despite some lopsided losses, is actually one of the best in the area.
“I think that was the biggest thing, his character,” Nomland noted. “Six-nothing, 10-nothing games, he’s still throwing every part of his body in front of the ball.
“It’s unfortunate that he doesn’t get the recognition that he should at the county level just because they worry more about shutouts. That’s more of a testament to the defense in my opinion.”
Mundy played an integral role in the Tribe’s two wins over Pottstown, the first two times the Tribe defeated the Trojans in the last five years.
In a 1-0 home victory, Mundy had to make 14 second-half saves.
“Mundy had a great game to keep us ahead,” Nomland recalled.
The Tribe rallied in the second half of a 3-2 road victory with Mundy making more acrobatic saves to secure the win.
“That was a good game because we actually came back in that game. Normally, when we go down, the heads go down, ‘this again’ type thing for the guys,” said Nomland.
As the season progressed, Nomland saw growth in his very inexperienced, depth-challenged team.
“It was a lot harder to keep them going, keep them revved up, but in terms of ability a lot of people turned it on. We kept games closer.”
The Tribe struggled all year to protect Mundy in the goal, but Nomland had praise for one of his senior defenders.
“Zach Groff, he did a real good job for me. He never played varsity before. He was a captain and pretty much led the defense. He was the coordinator.”
As for the future, there is hope on the distant horizon.
Nomland had praise for sophomore Marcus Sobetsky, who grew from “timid” and “intimidated” to a starter in the second half of the season.
“He played really well down the stretch. He’ll definitely have to lead the defense next year.”
Freshman Eli Barker showed promise as a goal scorer. “He definitely grew as the year went on. He always works hard, so if he keeps working, I could definitely see him doing something,” Nomland said.
“The freshman class was actually probably one of the better ones in the last three years, so that’s somewhat promising.”
There are also some hopeful signs from the seventh and eighth where several good players are developing their skills.
Nomland has even seen the possibilities among fifth and sixth graders. “They’ve got a lot of potential, a lot of ability, as long as we can keep them playing.”
But there will be a huge gap in net with the graduation of Mundy, who has been working with freshman goalie Dakota Jamison,
“Chris got to be where he is because he did a lot on his own outside of the season,” said Nomland, and he hopes that Mundy’s example will rub off on not just potential goalies but all up and coming members of the team.