Beginning to fire on all cylinders, the Frederica Academy boys geared up and rolled over the Cottage School 11-1 Monday in the first round of the GISA soccer state playoffs.
Senior Eli Fritchman notched a whopping six goals, Charlie Runyan completed his own hat trick, and Thomas Jackson tallied two scores for Frederica in the romp.
After dealing with injuries and other absences throughout the year, the Knights (9-3) have hit their stride with the team finally coming together just as it opens postseason play.
“We’ve had as many as four or five players of a 16-man roster out at any one time, and on top of that, Frederica is just a small school, so we have to share a lot of players,” said Frederica boys coach Tim O’Sullivan. “We’ve got a track runner that was third in the state tournament, (Thomas) Jackson, and we have the No. 2 tennis player (Dylan McHugh). We have a player that plays in the MLS youth academy that is sharing time between two teams.
“Throughout the year, we’ve been missing a lot of people for a variety of reasons… It’s important that we kind of find out how to play as a whole group while everyone is here. That was encouraging to see that we’re kind of making steps.”
Along with the multiple commitments pulling the soccer team thin at times, the Knights also dealt with a variety of bumps and bruises that caused key players to miss time.
Xavier Collier missed time with an injury this season. Both Chandler Sitz and Jacob Leonard sat out games while recovering from concussions. Bryce Rielly just returned last week from a broken toe he suffered at the end of the basketball season.
Having a full compliment of players available paid immediate dividends for Frederica, which capped off its regular season with wins over First Presbyterian Christian Academy and previously undefeated St. Andrew’s.
The Knights’ chemistry will only improve with more time on the field together.
“it’s one thing with talking things through as to how this is going to fit together, but it’s another thing getting used to the players that you’re playing next to,” O’Sullivan said. “(The first round matchup) was just another opportunity to make that work.”
In just the third match Frederica has found itself at full strength this season, the Knights made a statement.
Frederica did well to read what Cottage’s defense allowed as it settled into a flat back line high up the field. The defense allowed the Knights plenty of time and space in the midfield to play balls through and behind the defense for scoring chances.
Fritchman made the most of his opportunities around the net, recording a double hat trick to begin the final postseason run of the senior’s multi-sport prep career.
“He’s not big in terms of his physical stature, but he plays big,” O’Sullivan said of Fritchman. “He has such a good athletic awareness in everything he does. He was an important piece to the football team, he was an important piece to the basketball team, he’s the co-captain for us.
“He just has that athletic awareness. Last night was great. Yes, he can adapt to the players around him very well, but this is his last season of high school sports. He really kind of stepped up big last night.”
Next up for the Frederica Academy boys is a matchup against the winner of Cristo Rey/Creekside Christian in the quarterfinal round of the Class 3A playoffs this weekend.