High Schoolers Build the Future of Susquehannock’s Soccer Program

Susquehannock Girls Soccer poses after winning first place in their Division during the 2023 season. Photo by Chris Barrett
Susquehannock Girls Soccer poses after winning first place in their Division during the 2023 season. Photo by Chris Barrett

After a long, and tiring day of school, many student-athletes rush to attend their practice for the day.

Sophomores Brady Derkosh and Niamh Fanning similarly make the trek to the soccer field three days a week; however, it is not for their own practices.

Derkosh, a varsity soccer player, recently decided to stay as involved as possible in the soccer program and take on a coaching role for the boys middle school soccer team.

He has been playing soccer for around 13 years and has been on the boys soccer varsity roster for the past two years, while also playing club soccer outside of school. He has been involved with middle school soccer since 2021, when he played on the first 8th grade team.

Sophomore Brady Derkosh shoots the ball and scores in a Susquehannock boys soccer game against Eastern during the 2023 season. Photograoh by Joce Sterman

As a rising junior, Derkosh wanted to help create the future of the team. He remembered how helpful playing on the middle school soccer team was in preparing him for high school and wanted to help the incoming freshmen have a similar experience.

“I can help them develop skills [and] help prepare them for high school,” Derkosh said. “I knew some of the kids on the team, and it helps give me a better look on what the high school team is going to look like next year.”

After reaching out to the middle school coach and attending practices and games, Derkosh can confidently say how impressed he was with the future of the soccer program.

“It helps to see them because [with] a lot of them I didn’t even know the basics of their skills,” Derkosh said. “…but now that I’ve seen them, I know we will have some decent players.”

The boys soccer team was able to attend the District Quarterfinals last season in 2023 and were short only one goal away from advancing to States. This game has left a sour taste in the remaining players’ mouths as they anxiously await the incoming fall season.

“I guess we will have to see,” Derkosh said. “It’s going to be tough because we’ll have a new coach and lots of new players.”

With no official head coach yet, the players have taken off-season practicing into their own hands; although, the empty position remains a daunting prospect for next year’s season.

This situation is similar to the girls side, as the position of girls head soccer coach has remained empty for the past few months.

Despite the unfilled position, All-Star varsity sophomore player, Niamh Fanning, remains hopeful in her predictions for next year.

“I am hoping to go all the way this year, not end like last year, we are going to win counties, districts and hopefully make it to states,” Fanning said.

At the end of the girls season last year, where after winning the Division they faced a tough loss at home against Lower Dauphin in the first round of Districts, the girls were very dissatisfied.
To ensure a strong future for the program, Fanning explored her options of helping wherever she could when the girls middle school soccer coach reached out to her.

“I was in contact with Coach Brent a little bit, and he said that he would like for me to come up whenever I could,” Fanning said. “So I just started going to their practices and games when possible.”

Sophomore Niamh Fanning dribbles around a defender in a Susquehannock girls soccer game against Donegal during the 2023 season. Photograph by Chris Barrett

The rising junior has been playing soccer for around 11 years and started varsity as a freshman in the 2022 season. Since then, she has made first and second county teams and scored 25 goals in her high school career so far. Outside of school, she focuses on playing at a higher level with her club team, Pipeline.

With this experience under her belt, she felt confident in taking on a leadership role and beginning to get to know the incoming freshmen. Not only did she want to help them improve their skill, but also get to know each player as a person and begin to create chemistry for next year’s season.

“Part of me wanted to get to know the eighth graders,” Fanning said. “I love helping kids out whenever I can,and so I really just wanted to provide them with feedback to help them get better…they are great kids, so it is easy to coach them.”

She takes pride in her coaching position and brings her knowledge of the game to the middle schoolers in her own way.

“I usually coach the midfielders and attacking players because those are the positions I play,” Fanning said. “By doing those drills, they can see how I play, and they can take my ideas and take it and make it their own.”

Similar to Derkosh, Fanning is impressed with the level of skill the incoming freshmen hold.

“Honestly [they] make me think we are going to have a really good season next year,” Fanning said. “I already thought we were going to have a great season, but after seeing them and their skill, [it] makes me even more confident.”

Rising sophomore Anna Hombach agrees with Fanning that the incoming freshmen will be good additions to the team and that she looks forward to the fall season. Hombach is one of the many freshmen who participated in two years of middle school soccer and serves as an excellent example of how the middle school team prepares players for high school. Hombach has been playing soccer for around 10 years and got a fair share of time on the varsity field during the 2023 season.

The freshman touches on how the middle school team was a new addition to school athletics when she played; therefore, the results of the games were not the main focus of the season. Despite this, she thinks it was still very valuable to her soccer career because it allowed her to play with school friends and create chemistry with future high school teammates, making her more comfortable entering the varsity roster.

“I knew all the eighth graders, Emily Walker, Niamh Fanning, Elena Synder,” Hombach said. “so I knew I was going to know some people, and I feel like that definitely helped being able to have the help of the upperclassmen.”

Although no high schoolers were helping out with the program during this time, Hombach thinks it would have been beneficial to have that role model present and states she will be looking into helping out with the middle school team in the future.

Susquehannock girls soccer poses after winning first place in their Division during the 2023 season. Photograph by Chris Barrett

As the returning high school players and incoming freshmen prepare for the upcoming fall season, Fanning encourages everyone to come watch both girls and boys soccer.
“Next season is looking promising, and I think we are going to do really well as a team so everyone should come out to watch and definitely support,” Fanning said. “we have a good time, it’s a fun environment.”

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