Wise, In Second Season As Coach, Puts Devon Prep On Steady Course

Posted: September 26, 2000

Stability is a good thing. And Ben Wise, now in his second season as soccer coach at Devon Prep, represents stability for a program that really needed it.

The Tide had gone through four coaching changes in four years before Wise arrived on the scene. And his presence, even after just two seasons, seems to be making a difference. The team is 4-4-2 overall and is coming off one of its biggest wins of the season, a 1-0 victory over Southern Chester County League leader Bishop Shanahan.

"It was a huge win, a shocker," Wise said of last week's win. "But we really have been playing well, especially considering we are playing schools five, six times our size."

The Tide scored a win over a Class AAA school, when they beat Marple Newtown, 2-1. Shanahan was a District 1 Class AA finalist a year ago. Devon, small enough for the new Class A level, is taking a cautious look at the postseason.

"We haven't lost to a Class A team yet," Wise said.

Senior sweeperback Brian Beck keys the back line. "He's the heart and soul of our defense," Wise said. "He's been stellar."

Sophomore stopperback Mike Truncellito and junior goalie Clarke Gilbert have also improved their games, as have senior strikers Jon Collins and Kevin McCormack. It was McCormack's goal, from a Beck feed, that made the difference in the Shanahan win.

"Really, we've only had one bad game," Wise said. "We easily could be 8-2, if we could put the ball in the net more consistently. But, of course, that's what every coach wants."

Needed it. Malvern Prep coach Wayne McKinney knew that to improve the Friars' program and make it competitive in the tough Inter-Academic League, he had to pump up the team's nonleague slate.

That's why the Friars have played Strath Haven, Haverford High, Bishop Shanahan, and Delco Christian this season. It also is why the team was 2-6-1 overall heading into Thursday's game with another good team, West Chester East.

But the Friars got a pair of goals from David Marmugi and beat the Vikings, 2-1,

"The team really needed something," McKinney said. "We had been searching to try and find ourselves. When you play that tough nonleague competition and lose, the morale gets down, so we needed a solid game."

Marmugi, a junior, has been the team's leader for most of the season. He's a wrestler in the winter, and he brings a wrestler's work ethic with him to the soccer field.

"He just has tremendous endurance on the field," McKinney said. "And that's what you need in a game like the East game. You just have to keep working hard."

Senior center midfielder Lyle Frederick has also played well for the Friars. And McKinney thinks he may have a future star in freshman Jerry Bediako.

"He's been able to step right in and contribute," McKinney said of Bediako. "He's done a real nice job setting up the other guys. He'll continue to grow."

The Friars will open their Inter-Ac schedule Monday against the Haverford School.

Homecoming heroes. It was a special homecoming Saturday at Kennett as the team stunned defending PIAA Class AAA state champion Octorara, 2-1.

"It was very exciting for the kids," said Gus Carmona-Ernst, the Blue Demons' first-year coach. "And especially for the seniors, because it was their last homecoming. And it was a big challenge, because Octorara is a great team. Anytime we can compete at their level, it's a big game for us."

The coach switched fullbacks and midfielders before the game. Adam Pahl played a strong game at the stopperback position and scored the Blue Demons' first goal. Jose Mora had the other Kennett tally.

Whippets rebound. Downingtown bounced back from a draining Ches-Mont League loss to West Chester Henderson to edge Great Valley on Saturday, 2-1.

The game, one of the annual seasonal highlights on the Chester County card, does not have quite the same significance this season because Great Valley is now a Class AA school. Downingtown is the two-time PIAA Class AAA state champion.

"It's still a special game," Great Valley coach Dave Moffett said. "So many of the kids know each other, and there's a history between the schools. There's always something there, so there's a lot of meaning in that sense. But it does not have a direct bearing on the [district tournament] seeding like it used to."

Delco-Shipley. The Keystone Conference showdown between Delco and the Shipley School, originally slated for last Tuesday but postponed due to rain, will now be played Oct. 23 at Shipley's Farm Field. The two teams are also scheduled to play Oct. 13 at Delco.

Brian Miller's e-mail address is millerbk@phillynews.com

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