Washington Twp. tuning out praise

Midfielder Lou Vilotti directs traffic for 18-0 Washington Township. The junior has 10 goals and 16 assists.
Midfielder Lou Vilotti directs traffic for 18-0 Washington Township. The junior has 10 goals and 16 assists.
Posted: October 28, 2013

Washington Township junior midfielder Lou Vilotti doesn't want to hear it. Neither does junior defender Ed McCusker.

The two standout soccer players and the rest of their teammates have been hearing all the superlatives associated with this season's team, and they aren't paying attention.

"We get mad when people say how good we are," said Vilotti, a master distributor and clutch scorer who has 10 goals and 16 assists.

Then this must be one mad team.

"None of that talk means anything until the end of the season," said McCusker, a top center defender. "We haven't proved anything yet."

Actually, the Minutemen have proved something - that they were better than their first 18 opponents.

There are whispers that get louder every day that this team has the potential to be among the best in recent South Jersey history.

The Minutemen are 18-0 and will face Rancocas Valley in a South Jersey Soccer Coaches Association semifinal at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Paul VI.

Washington Township has allowed five goals all year with a keeper, sophomore Travis Yates, who is a position player but went in net out of necessity.

And he looks as if he has been playing there a long time.

The Coaches Tournament consists of the top 16 teams in South Jersey, yet Washington Township has beaten two quality clubs, Cinnaminson and Haddon Township, in it by 4-0 scores.

What's interesting is that in Friday's quarterfinal win over Haddon Township, Washington Township started just four seniors.

One of the team's best players, junior forward Burak Ozdemir, who has scored nine goals, has been out about three weeks with an ankle injury, although coach Shane Snyder hopes he'll return soon.

Washington Township usually contends for a Top 10 berth in South Jersey, but it recently has reached a new level.

Last season, Washington Township won its second South Jersey Group 4 title.

Now, the Minutemen are hoping to go further. They have never won a Coaches Tournament championship or a state title, so those are two obvious goals.

For a team with an unbeaten record, while playing in the always-difficult Olympic Conference American Division, the praise keeps coming, even if the players and Snyder don't want to listen.

"They are outstanding, and they don't have a weak spot," said Haddon Township's Jim Bonder, whose team is the favorite in this year's South Jersey Group 1 race. "They play so well together."

There isn't just one player an opponent has to focus on stopping, although the key to the attack is Vilotti.

"We call him the maestro," Snyder said.

Vilotti is among the most accurate passers and directs traffic like a, well, maestro. His teammates understand that if they get open, the ball likely won't be far behind.

"He is a spectacular player, and it's an honor to play alongside him," junior Derek MacKinnon said. "He knows right where to put the ball."

So does MacKinnon, who has found the back of the net with regularity. He has 21 goals after scoring all four against Haddon Township.

Not only is Washington Township The Inquirer's top South Jersey team, but the Minutemen also are No. 1 in the Newark Star-Ledger state poll.

We can just see the Minutemen covering their ears and eyes.

"You'd rather be No. 1 after the state tournament," MacKinnon said.


Coaches Tournament Semifinals

The South Jersey Soccer Coaches Tournament boys' and girls' semifinals will take place Sunday at Paul VI. Here are the matchups with the teams' seedings in parentheses.

Boys

Ocean City (6) vs. Timber Creek (2), 12:30 p.m.

Rancocas Valley (4) vs. Washington Twp. (1), 2:30 p.m.

Girls

Moorestown (6) vs. Lenape (2), 4:30 p.m.

Williamstown (4) vs. Eastern (1), 6:30 p.m.

- Marc Narducci


mnarducci@phillynews.com

@sjnard

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