What a wild boys’ soccer race it is in the Colonial Conference Liberty Division. Haddon Heights is the defending champion and once again a major threat. The other major contenders are Haddonfield, West Deptford and based on early results, it would be difficult to count out Sterling.
Heights and West Deptford played to a scoreless draw on Tuesday, in another example of the great parity that exists.
Already Heights has tied Sterling and West Deptford and beaten Haddonfield. Meanwhile West Deptford has lost to Haddonfield and Sterling and tied Heights. Haddonfield has beaten West Deptford and Sterling while losing to Heights. And Sterling has the win over West Deptford and tie with Heights plus the loss to Haddonfield.
Good luck trying to sort this out.
Heights has remained competitive despite losing its best player, senior stopper Austin McCleery to a high ankle sprain. McCleery suffered the injury Sept. 19 in the scoreless draw with Sterling.
Garnets coach Jeff Eppright says that the prognosis is that McCleery would be out four to six weeks. Eppright is hopeful that McCleery could return by the playoffs if not sooner, but nobody knows with high ankle sprains.
The fact that McCleery was not only a defensive tower of strength, but was an offensive threat, especially with his ability to push the ball into the offensive zone, has made his loss doubly difficult to take.
Yet Eppright, last year’s Inquirer South Jersey coach of the year, keeps coming up with competitive teams and the Garnets had the better of possession against West Deptford, but couldn’t finish.
Still, the Garnets will be kept in many games because junior Jon Weaver is among the top keepers in the Colonial and maybe beyond. Kevin Miller has moved to McCleery’s stopper spot and looks comfortable.
The offense remains a work in progress. Without a true finisher like last year’s 31-goal scorer George Gans, it may take a few more games for the offense to begin to jell.
West Deptford showed that it can be highly competitive and in senior midfielder-forward Kyle Redrow, the Eagles have one of the Colonial’s most dangerous offensive players.
So anything can happen in the Colonial Liberty and it wouldn’t be surprising if matters aren’t settled until the end of the regular season in late October.