Despite the loss of 13 seniors, including five to Division I, Friars still expect to contend in the MIAA A Conference

by Joe DiBlasi

Archbishop Curley soccer coach Barry Stitz begins his 19th year at the helm for the East Baltimore school this season.

Last season’s squad was very close to Stitz, for it included not only his son Ben (who is now at Penn), but three other players who Stitz coached since they were seven years old.

Brandan Knapp (St. John’s), Nick Richardson (Maryland) and Tommy Sidlack (Mount Saint Mary’s), are all starting their freshman year at the college level, playing Division I soccer. The squad spent much of the season as the top-ranked team in the nation but late season injuries derailed the Friars title quest and now Stitz has a lot of key holes to fill.

Of the 13 players who graduated from last year’s team, 11 are playing college ball, with five playing at Division 1 schools.

Sidlack and Ben Stitz combined for 49 goals last year for the Friars, and Coach Stitz will have to find a way to replace that high scoring tandem.

“Last year was one of the most enjoyable I’ve had in my time here at Curley,” said Stitz. “Despite the fact that we came up a little short in the semifinals, when you have your son on the team, it makes things a little special.”

The new group also a special feel, as some fresh spaces are ready to step up and take their turn at leading what has been one of Baltimore’s premier high school soccer programs throughout Stitz’s tenure and beyond.

“When we started practice yesterday, day one had a different feel without those guys,” said Stitz. “I’m still excited because we have a good group of kids out here and we have a lot of talent.”

Stitz said he will be counting on Michael Caulkins, Bryce Woodward and Jalen Anderson, to complement Captain Anthony Dragisics, a Villavova commit, center-back Brayden Wise, who Stitz described as a tenacious defender, center midfielder Tyler Henry ( a good all-around player), and T. Garcia, an explosive player, out wide. Anderson was the leading scorer for the JV last year.

Stitz also expects to get some productive minutes from incoming freshman Ricky Schissler.

Four players will compete to be the Friars’ keeper. Zack Herr, Chris Denholm, Anthony Grasso and Michael Caulkins are the candidates. Graaso was the keeper at the end of last season for the junior varsity.

Stitz summed things up by saying, “People will think that Curley will probably have a down year, but I believe we have a lot of talent here, and although we might not be as strong as we were last year, I think we might surprise some people.”

Pictured above: (From left) Captain Anthony Dragisics will be Curley’s offensive leader, while Brayden Wise, Tyler Harry, Kenny Clapp, T. Garcia and Bryce Woodward will all fill key roles for the Friars.