Old Forge and Riverside were among the most recent schools to add varsity boys soccer to their sports programs in the Lackawanna League, but that doesn’t mean that winning their annual game is any less important than in games or matches in other sports contested by the schools.
Simply put, the Blue Devils want to beat Riverside and the Vikings always seem to savor the sweet taste of victory just a little bit more when it comes against rival Old Forge.
As usual, bragging rights are on the line today , Sept. 12, when the Lackawanna League Division III clubs clash at Riverside at 4:15 p.m. in the second sport the Triboro schools will play over the course of the academic year.
“With the rivalry between the towns, the kids are looking forward to it,” Vikings head coach Jamie Williams said. “It’s my first year at Riverside and it would be a nice win.”
“We enjoy playing them every year,” Blue Devils head coach Chet Lenceski said. “In every sport, there is a rivalry (between the schools), and it’s very competitive, and enjoyable.”
But Lenceski added that there is a difference in soccer that does not occur in other sports where the schools compete against each other.
“The (soccer) kids are different. The Triboro soccer players have grown up playing together,” Lenceski said. “That is unlike the way it is in baseball, football or basketball. That (playing together) makes it a little different. Even in the winter, kids from both schools are playing together at Riverfront (the indoor all-purpose sports facility across the street from Scranton Memorial Stadium).
In other words, it may be harder to have a bitter feeling about playing a foe in which one has many former teammates on the other side. Williams is more concerned about getting a win, regardless of who the opponent is.
“The kids are looking forward to it,” Williams said. “The last four years there haven’t been a lot of wins, and that makes it tough to have a lot of confidence.”
She did say that she has heard from many people about the rivalry game.
“There is a lot of interest. I’ve heard from parents or friends, and they are excited about it,” Williams said. “Some may be even more excited than the kids, but the kids are the ones who have to play.”
Old Forge will have some extra motivation to win as the Blue Devils have dedicated the season to late assistant coach Brian Budzak, who recently passed away. Like Riverside, any win will mean a lot to the Old Forge program.
“The kids will be motivated,” Lenceski said. “The program is young, and we’ll play it one game at a time.
“We have to be aggressive, stay focused, and play hard.”
With bragging rights on the line, that’s the type of play one might expect to see from both teams.
The first varsity battle in the Triboro area came in golf, and Old Forge posted a 7-2 victory over Riverside on Sept. 4.
Robert Donovan and A.J. Cantarella paired up in the final group to sweep the last three points in the match for the Blue Devils.
Cameron Carpenter and Ryan Voyack also won in singles and better ball for Old Forge, which won all three better-ball points.
Noah Munley and Adam Leasure posted 1-up wins in singles for the Vikings.