Great Valley boys seek stronger finish

Posted: October 24, 2013

You don't have to remind the Great Valley boys' soccer team what happened on Oct. 25 last year.

Luis Benitez Palermo said he has been thinking about that day ever since he walked off the field. Jay Nunez talked about the overwhelming disappointment surrounding the game, and Patrick Murphy remembers the looks on the seniors' faces when they realized that their high school soccer careers were over.

That game and the feelings that went along with it are etched in the minds of every returning member of the Patriots (18-0).

Earning the Class AAA second seed in PIAA District 1 after a stellar 2012 regular season, the Patriots were upset by Pennsbury, losing in penalty kicks during the second round of the district tournament. It was a sudden end to what could have become a promising playoff run.

Now a year wiser, with more experience, Great Valley - the top seed this season - is doing everything it can to make sure history doesn't repeat itself.

"We learned a lot," said Benitez Palermo, a senior forward. "I think last year we went into the game thinking that we were going to win.

"We learned that the seed or rankings or what we did during the season doesn't matter because it all comes down to one game."

Almost a year to the day that they surprisingly were ousted from the district tournament, the Patriots will play their second-round game in this year's playoffs. In a home game Thursday, the Patriots will face Wissahickon, a 1-0 winner Tuesday over Pennsbury in a first-round matchup.

"There is a lot of pressure on us as the No. 1 seed," said Nunez, a senior tricaptain. "It says we are the best, but we haven't showed it yet. Hopefully, we will show it by winning districts."

What Great Valley has shown so far has been impressive: rolling through the regular season in dominating fashion, going undefeated, winning a Ches-Mont League title, and beating rival West Chester Rustin for the first time in the tenure of the senior class.

The Patriots also outscored opponents by 50-6, with 13 players contributing goals.

Coach Dave Moffett said balance and depth have made the team so successful, calling Nunez "the heart of the squad," Benitez Palermo the "playmaker," and senior tricaptain Murphy just downright "instrumental."

While Murphy credits great team defense, Nunez praises the Patriots' desire, and Benitez Palermo thinks the team's belief in itself will prime it for the playoffs, they all acknowledge that, this time around, there is a little more motivation.

Great Valley has something to prove.

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