Team effort key for undefeated Polytech boys’ soccer squad

Senior Zach Maheu, right, has scored eight goals for the unbeaten Polytech boys’ soccer team. (Delaware State News file photo)

Senior Zach Maheu, right, has scored eight goals for the unbeaten Polytech boys’ soccer team. (Delaware State News file photo)

WOODSIDE — When a team is undefeated at this point in the season, it will get people talking.

So there’s some buzz going around at Polytech High about its boys’ soccer team.

“The boys say it’s cool to be a soccer player,” said Polytech coach Shaune Gorman. “It’s pretty cool to be the talk of the school. They’re a big deal.”

This year is just the latest chapter in Polytech’s growth as a soccer program. After another victory on Tuesday over Lake Forest, the Panthers now hold an 8-0 overall record.

They’ve been improving each season, starting with 2014, when the Panthers made the school’s first appearance in the state soccer tournament. They finished with the best record in program history at 11-5.

Polytech bettered that mark last year, going 12-3 in the regular season before a first-round loss in the state tournament to finish 12-4.

With seven games left in the regular season, the Panthers could break that wins record this year.

“It’s the chemistry, it’s all there,” Gorman said. “The guys get along. When it comes to playing, they’re focusing and they mesh well together. That’s probably been the best thing for us, there’s no one person. The boys have all come together as a team and if we want to compete for a conference or a state title, we’ll have to do it as a team.”

True to Gorman’s word, 11 different players have scored at least one goal for Polytech this season. The Panthers are led in goals by senior Marco Maddalena with 11 and fellow senior Zach Maheu, who has scored eight.

The Polytech defense has recorded five shutouts this season and the Panthers have let up just one goal in the last five contests.

It’s Gorman’s first year as Polytech’s head coach. The 2015 Wesley College graduate had spent the last two years as an assistant learning under Ray Ott and assistant coach Dan Simmons.

Gorman said he never expected to be in charge of a high school team this soon out of college, but jumped at the chance to inherit the Panthers when Ott stepped down. The 23-year-old called it the perfect situation, especially since Simmons, who has head coaching experience with the Polytech girls’ soccer team, stayed on his staff.

“All I wanted to do was to help other people enjoy the game and get better,” Gorman said. “It would be great to win the conference, win titles but I want to see kids get better.”

Despite all the success in recent years, the Panthers are still searching for that first state tournament win after back-to-back first round exits. Gorman said they’ve been hurt by injuries late in the season in years past and are hoping to avoid that this season.

With some important Henlopen Conference Northern Division games on the horizon, the Panthers are right in the thick of things for the conference championship. They’re currently 2-0 against the rest of the North, with key matchups against conference contenders Sussex Central, Sussex Tech and Caesar Rodney still remaining.

The Panthers already faced Cape Henlopen, the defending Henlopen North champion, this season. They defeated the Vikings for the first time in recent memory thanks to an overtime goal by Maddalena.

Polytech doesn’t play again until Tuesday against Laurel, giving the Panthers six consecutive days without a game. After Laurel, the Panthers go on a  pivotal three-game stretch against Sussex Central, Sussex Tech and Caesar Rodney, all in a row, which will likely decide the conference champion.

“These teams are going to be pretty tough,” Gorman said. “This week benefits more than it hurts. It’s nice to get a little bit of recovery time. We can go to work and study things and go watch some other teams play.”

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