The tactic worked. Spangler has been on a tear ever since. The next game, Spangler exploded for a school-record six goals in a 12-1 victory over Lansdale Catholic. He has scored a goal in 16 of the 19 games he has played in this season.
Spangler owns the school record for career goals, with 75. He has 26 goals this season; he had 29 last year. This season, he was named Central League MVP for the second straight season. But he won't be satisfied until the Panthers win the PIAA Class AAA state title outright. Last year Strath Haven shared the title with Erie Cathedral Prep.
Of the benching, Spangler said he had needed a reminder of why he is touted as one of the premier players in Southeastern Pennsylvania. In retrospect, he said, it was one of the best things that could have happened to him.
"I guess I went into this season with a big head, and I guess I wasn't working hard as I did in previous years," said Spangler, 18, who lives in Media, Delaware County.
"I knew why I was on the bench, but I wasn't angry about it, because I wasn't finishing balls that I should have finished. I wasn't playing the way I was capable of playing.
"I really couldn't explain it," he said. "Because if you gave me the same balls that I get now, there wouldn't even be a question as to whether or not they would find the back of the net."
Though opposing defenses are geared to stop Spangler, he has continued scoring.
One reason is because the Panthers, who entered last night's District 1 Class AAA quarterfinal match against West Chester East with a 19-1 record, have a deep, talented group of players surrounding him.
Another reason is that Spangler is one of the most difficult players to defend against, because of his speed and quickness, and his ability to play with his back to the goal.
"Scott, as great a finisher as he is, is just as good as a playmaker," Radnor coach Alan Mezger said. "He's tough to get a read on as an opposing coach, but what really has impressed me is how good he has become with his back to the goal.
"He can hold people off, and once he turns people, he's equally dangerous one-on-one. Scott has developed his game both ways, beating people, and creating. That will translate well at the next level."
Barr said Spangler is the best high-school player in the state, someone who merits Division I college attention. Spangler is getting looks from Virginia Tech, Delaware, Rutgers and Duquense.
"Scott doesn't play up front on his club team, but I think he can be a serious prime-time offensive player in college," Barr said. "He has honed his skills, and I know he's the best player in the state. I felt that way about Scott last year.
"We have a good surrounding cast, obviously, and that helps him. . . . There aren't too many kids who are as quick and athletic as Scott. He may be one of the best point guards in the area this basketball season, which indicates what kind of an athlete he is."
But, for now, the only goal on Spangler's mind is another state title.
Contact Joe Santoliquito
at 610-313-8028 or email@example.com.
Southeastern Pennsylvania Boys' Soccer Top 10
Records through Sunday.
Rk. Team Record Comment
1. St. Joseph's Prep 17-0-2 Chris Powell leads the Prep with 14 goals.
2. Strath Haven 19-1-0 The Panthers haven't lost since Sept. 5, against the Prep.
3. Council Rock North 19-0-3 Next up for the Indians is a berth in the district semifinals.
4. Neshaminy 16-5-0 The Redskins are coming off a clutch win over Pennsbury.
5. North Catholic 13-1-2 The Falcons visit Archbishop Ryan on Friday.
6. Pennsbury 17-2-3 The Falcons' season ended with a loss to Neshaminy.
7. W.C. Henderson 15-1-2 Freddie Chambers had a hat trick in a win over Methacton.
8. Central Bucks East 15-4-2 The Patriots' season ended with a loss to Council Rock North.
9. Archbishop Ryan 12-2-2 Goalkeeper Tony Pratico has 11 shutouts this season.
10. Holy Ghost Prep 14-4-2 The Firebirds meet Harriton in the Class AA semifinals tonight.
Under consideration: Christopher Dock, 14-5; Radnor, 11-3-3, West Chester East, 15-4-2; Wissahickon, 12-7-3.
- Joe Santoliquito