And just like that, we find ourselves in the home stretch of the 2022 fall sports season at Penn Charter. The 136th installment of PC/GA Day is just over a week away, and there is so much happening with all 10 of our Quaker teams. Let’s take a team-by-team look at where everybody currently stands as we near the finish line. (Note: This report covers athletic contests played between Oct. 26-Nov. 2)
Girls Cross Country
Girls cross country ran their penultimate race of the season on Oct. 29 at Belmont Plateau, continuing their strong season with a second place finish out of 12 teams. The Quakers accumulated 53 points in the PAISAA Championship, finishing behind only victorious Notre Dame (40 points).
Sophomore Alli DeLisi finished first overall out of 83 runners with a time of 19:23.70, adding another championship to her growing list of accomplishments. Fellow sophomores Sam Jaffe (20:58.90) and Alex Jaffe (21:23.90) finished seventh and 10th, respectively; like DeLisi, Sam Jaffe was named first team all-state, while Alex Jaffe was selected to the second team.
“Alli’s first place finish was amazing. She led the field from beginning to end,” head coach Candice Lee said. “And Sam and Alex have definitely been consistent this season and are a major reason for our success as they were both able to finish in the top 15. This provided PC key points that allowed us to finish second in states and (league) champs.”
Rounding out the Penn Charter competitors were junior Grace Neuwirth (17th, 21:53.80), senior Veronica Lentz (18th, 22:00.00), freshman Natalia Modzelewski (27th, 23:26.70) and freshman Michaela Poland (28th, 23:27.00). With only one senior in PC’s top six, Lee’s group is only scratching the surface of its true potential.
The Quakers have one remaining race on their schedule — PC/GA Day on Nov. 12. The girls event begins at 9:30 a.m. at Germantown Academy.
Boys Cross Country
Head coach Tim Zwall’s boys cross country squad also ran in the PAISAA race at Belmont Plateau on Oct. 29, finishing third out of 18 schools with a total of 89 points. Only Episcopal (20 points) and Germantown Friends School (72 points) finished ahead of the Quakers.
Sophomore T.J. Zwall was PC’s top finisher, placing eighth out of 108 total runners with a time of 17:04.90. Senior Wes Trautwein wasn’t far behind, finishing ninth at 17:19.80, while fellow senior Jack Frank made it inside the top-20 at 17th (17:53.10). Four more PC runners competed in the race — sophomore Nate Johnson (21st, 18:21.70), senior James Glomb (34th, 19:04.10), freshman Peyton Burnett (42nd, 19:37.30) and freshman Liam Stewart (63rd, 20:47.40).
“The boys had a great day,” Tim Zwall said. “Most of them ran personal bests. I was very happy with their performances and our third-place finish. Our varsity led the way and our freshmen continued to develop for the future. We are looking forward to our showdown with GA.”
Like the girls race on Nov. 12, the boys will go head-to-head with the Patriots at 9:30 a.m. on PC/GA Day.
It has been a busy week for the Penn Charter golf team, as the boys participated in their final three competitions of the season.
First was the Bert Linton Golf Championship on Oct. 26, an 18-hole stroke play individual event for the Inter-Ac’s top golfers based on performance in the six league invitationals during the season. The Quakers had two golfers qualify for the event at Llanerch Country Club — senior Jake Dittus and junior Holden Hummel. Dittus shot an 86, while Hummel posted an 88.
“Holden and Jake represented the team admirably,” head coach Jim Sullivan said. “The first few holes were played through a dense fog, making it difficult for the pair to get on track. However, both were named second team all-league on the basis of very strong regular season play. Congratulations, gentlemen!”
Up next was the PAISAA Championship at Brookside Country Club on Oct. 31, featuring 50 golfers competing in both individual and team categories. Germantown Academy and Haverford shared the state title, each finishing with team scores of 228; Penn Charter posted a team score of 257.
Hunter Stetson of Episcopal was the top finisher in the individual portion, shooting a 70. Penn Charter had six golfers participate in the event — the Quakers were led by sophomore Dean Kaiser, who shot an 80; Kaiser was followed by Jake Dittus (83), sophomore Teddy Davey (85) and Hummel, sophomore Casey Felter and eighth-grader Jasper Dittus, all of whom posted 87’s.
“While the four-man team of Hummel, Jake Dittus, Casey Felter, and Jasper Dittus fell short of their championship goals, strong individual performances from Kaiser and Davey bode well for the team's future success,” assistant coach John O’Neill said.
Finally, the Quakers officially kicked off the PC/GA Day festivities with the two teams’ competing head-to-head on Nov. 2 at Bluestone Country Club, 10 days before the rest of the fall teams will be in action at Germantown Academy. GA won the match, 7-1, officially completing the Quakers’ season. Junior Max Gross was the lone PC golfer to prevail in the match play format.
“The Quakers golf team showed great improvement over the course of the season,” O’Neill said. “The leadership of senior captains Holden Hummel and Jake Dittus, along with Harrison Signorelli, guided the young squad with a blend of wisdom, experience and humor.
“Golf is different from other sports. There are no referees or umpires, and players enforce the rules themselves. Coaches are not permitted to coach during matches. There are no fans on the course, the players are on their own. The players test their skills on some of the most challenging golf courses in the area. It takes a special kind of athlete to succeed under these circumstances. The Quakers return a strong group of players who will look to build on this year’s success.”
Girls Water Polo
It was a busy week of competition for head coach Brian Hecker’s girls water polo team, as the Quakers played three games, first traveling to Upper Dublin on Oct. 26 and suffering a 12-7 loss. The girls fell behind early but continued to battle throughout, with Lindsay Gadsden and Abby Steinbrook leading the offense with two goals each.
Penn Charter got back on track on Oct. 28 against Episcopal with an 11-6 victory, allowing the Quakers to sweep EA this season, also winning 13-6 on Oct. 11. Steinbrook and Lindsay Gadsden again scored two goals apiece, while Merrill Gadsden paced the Quaker attack with three scores. Against both Upper Dublin and EA, the Quakers (11-4) continued to play without injured goalie Chelsea Gadsden.
“The girls came back and played a remarkable game against rival Episcopal,” Hecker said. “And a shoutout goes out to Caroline Sumner, Lauren Gedraitis and Maddie Bergman for stepping in and playing great in goal.”
Finally, the Quakers hosted Pennridge of the Suburban One League on Nov. 2 and lost a close 9-6 battle. In fact, all four of Penn Charter’s losses this season have come at the hands of Suburban One schools: Pennridge, Upper Dublin, Wissahickon (Oct. 20) and North Penn (Sept. 24). Pennridge is a top team in the area and won the Beast of the East Tournament earlier in the year. PC played strong defense against the Rams and trailed by only one after the first quarter, but Pennridge was able to keep the Quakers at bay thanks to numerous power play advantages that they scored on. Merrill Gadsden once again led the way with three goals.
The Quakers will next be in action this weekend as the team will compete as the top seed in the five-team Eastern Prep Tournament on Nov. 5 at Episcopal Academy. Penn Charter, which won this event last season, will play the winner of GA-Hill School at 1 p.m. A win in that game would send Hecker’s squad to the championship game at 4 p.m. later in the day.
“The girls are excited to enter as the one seed and hope to defend their title from last season,” Hecker said.
Boys Water Polo
The Quakers were in action three times over the course of the last week, posting a 2-1 record.
On Oct. 26, Penn Charter defeated Upper Dublin of the Suburban One League 17-11. The team then experienced a hiccup on Oct. 28, falling to Episcopal 16-13 after PC had won the first meeting of the season 19-10 on Oct. 11.
“EA was a tough one, as we had beaten them pretty easily the first time,” head coach Bobby Wurtz said. “We went up 3-1 early, but they ended the first quarter with a lead and didn’t look back. Mentally, I thought we just weren’t really there.”
Fortunately, Penn Charter (11-12, 3-4) was able to achieve a season sweep of Malvern Prep after knocking off the Friars 20-12 on Nov. 1, snapping a three-game Inter-Ac losing streak. The Quakers were without leading scorer Cormac Stevens (illness), but PJ Duffy (seven goals), Juan Tovar (four goals) and Scott Sweeney (three goals) all stepped up in his absence against the Friars.
“Proud of the way we bounced back,” Wurtz said. “We played really well, with everybody staying positive and communicating throughout. Sometimes you’re not really sure what to expect coming off a loss, especially without our top guy. It was a huge testament to how good the rest of our team is.”
The Quakers will next be in action this weekend as the team will compete in the Eastern Prep Tournament on Nov. 5-6. As the fifth seed in the nine-team event, PC will face off against GA, getting a pre-PC/GA Day tune-up against their rivals, who came to Penn Charter and upset the Quakers earlier this season. That game will be at 8 a.m. on Nov. 5 at Episcopal, which is hosting the tournament for both boys and girls teams. A win would send PC to the semifinals on Sunday morning, but regardless of the GA result, the Quakers are guaranteed three games across the two days.
“It’s an opportunity for us to make up for a poor performance the first time we played GA,” Wurtz said. “With this and PC/GA Day, we have a chance to beat them twice and prove that we’re the better team. We’re looking forward to it.”
The Quakers faced one of their toughest challenges of the season on Oct. 28, hosting an Episcopal team that has a 14-2-1 overall record and 9-1-1 league mark. In fact, EA handed PC its most lopsided loss of the season back on Oct. 4, a 5-0 rain-soaked defeat that the Quakers were eager to avenge.
This one would not be a blowout. Thanks to a first half goal off a free kick by freshman Cassidy McCusker, Penn Charter and Episcopal were deadlocked at 1 at halftime. Unfortunately, EA was able to push one across in the second half, narrowly escaping with a 2-1 victory.
The Quakers carried that competitive spirit into their Nov. 1 game at Agnes Irwin, another opportunity to avenge an earlier season defeat after the team fell to the Owls 1-0 at home on Oct. 7. This time, head coach Ashley Maher’s squad got back into the win column with a 2-0 road triumph. The victory was highlighted by goals from freshman Lucy Sokoloff (1-0) and junior Haley Lewinski (2-0), improving the Quakers to 7-8-1 overall and 4-7 in Inter-Ac competition.
“We had six players out due to injury, but the girls who stepped in had great games,” Maher said. “Our second goalie, (junior) Maia Kafer, has been a godsend keeping us in these games. It was an all-around team effort where everyone stepped up and did their jobs. Things clicked.”
Despite all of the injuries they have sustained, Maher said the team has stayed constantly upbeat. In addition to Kafer, Maher shouted out both Haley Lewinski and her younger sister, freshman Carly Lewinski, as well as fellow freshman Cailyn O’Brien, for stepping into larger roles when their teammates went down.
PC won’t have to wait very long to play the Owls again, as the two teams will face off in the PAISAA quarterfinals at third-seeded Agnes Irwin on Nov. 8 at 2:30 p.m. PC earned the sixth seed (out of 10 teams) in the tournament, and a win would allow the Quakers another shot at second-seeded Episcopal in the semifinals on Nov. 10.
“We’ve had our minds geared toward this tournament for about a month,” Maher said. “It’s where our focus has been, because we knew we’d have this opportunity at a fresh start. We’ve never given up, and so many of our games we’ve lost by one or two goals. We’re right there. After the last game, it feels like the momentum is swinging back toward us. The girls feel it. There’s just a different vibe where everyone seems to be connecting.”
After a disappointing 0-2 week in which the Quakers were shut out by both league champion Haverford (1-0 on Oct. 25) and Episcopal (2-0 on Oct. 28), the team was determined to get a win its next time out in hopes of finishing the season strong.
Head coach Bobby DiBenedetto’s team responded in a big way on Nov. 1, defeating last place Malvern Prep 1-0. The victory improved the Quakers to 11-7-1 overall and 4-4-1 in Inter-Ac play, a huge improvement from last year’s squad that went 2-12-2 and 2-7-1. The team still had some hopes of competing for a league title until the Haverford defeat, and even though that didn’t happen, it’s still been a very strong season for the Quakers.
Next up, the boys will compete in the 15-team PAISAA Tournament. Penn Charter earned the No. 9 seed and will travel to face No. 8 Westtown School in an opening-round contest on Nov. 4 at 3 p.m. The winner of that game will advance to the quarterfinals to face top-seeded and 2021 PAISAA champion Kiski School on Nov. 8.
For the third consecutive week, the Quakers battled with an undefeated Inter-Ac rival. The first two times did not go well, as PC fell to Malvern Prep 35-0 on Oct. 16 and 48-7 to Episcopal on Oct. 23, with the latter contest being tied at 7 in the second quarter before the Churchmen ripped off 21 consecutive points to close the first half. Malvern has since lost a game to Haverford, but EA and the Fords both remain unbeaten at 8-0.
On Oct. 29, the Quakers welcomed Haverford to Maguire Field for a much more competitive tilt than in previous weeks. Although PC ultimately lost the game 16-13, the team got some of its mojo back after three straight lopsided defeats (also a 31-10 loss to Lawrencevill on Oct. 8).
The Fords struck first, taking a 7-0 lead into the second quarter. But the Quakers were up to the challenge, as senior quarterback Seamus McCain hit classmate Isaiah Grimes with a 25-yard receiving score to tie things up. The Fords (8-0, 3-0) answered on a touchdown with 1:40 remaining in the half, taking a 13-7 advantage into halftime after the Quakers (4-4, 0-3) blocked the extra point.
Haverford tacked on a second half field goal to increase the lead to 16-7, but PC showed it was not going down without a fight. McCain connected with senior Colin Schumm on a 70-yard completion and McCain later carried it into the end zone from the 1, pulling the Quakers within 16-13 with under three minutes to play. Unfortunately, that would be the last score of the contest, sending Penn Charter to its fourth straight loss.
Struggling to get the rushing attack going, the game was a passing showcase for McCain, who started his second straight game under center. McCain completed 15 of 25 passes for 211 yards and a touchdown, while Schumm was the leading receiver with three catches for 92 yards. Grimes (53 yards) and senior Liam Rowan (44 yards) each had four receptions.
The Quakers will next be in action on Nov. 5 at SCH Academy for a 2 p.m. kickoff. Like PC, the Blue Devils will enter with an 0-3 league mark, so one of the teams will be leaving the field with their first Inter-Ac victory of the season.
Penn Charter tennis continued rolling last week against Germantown Academy on Oct. 27, knocking off the Patriots 6-1 in the first of two meetings between the rivals. The Quakers (12-4, 7-4) have won eight of their last nine matches dating back to Oct. 11.
Against GA, PC got singles wins from senior Lexi Bari and sophomores Mariah Mays and Karya Karabucak. On the doubles side, No. 2 doubles (juniors Savannah Abernethy and Frances Guenther), No. 3 doubles (senior Grace Jordan-Weinstein and freshman Jordan Simon) and No. 4 doubles (sophomore Olivia Calvanese and freshman Eva Kothari) all secured big wins as well.
Penn Charter has one match remaining on its schedule: at GA on PC/GA Day on Nov. 12 at 9 a.m., the first scheduled event of the day.
The Quakers (5-10, 0-9) dropped a pair of contests in the last week. First, the team fell to Episcopal 4-0 on Oct. 28; EA is one of the top two teams in the Inter-Ac with a 14-2-2 overall record and an 8-1 mark in league play, and PC competed hard against a very strong opponent.
On Nov. 1, Penn Charter traveled to Agnes Irwin, scoring multiple goals for the first time since late September and battling until the end despite the scoreboard not being in the team’s favor. The Owls won the game 7-2.
The Quakers will next be in action at home on Nov. 4 in a PAISAA first round matchup against ninth-seeded Westtown School. Penn Charter is seeded eighth in the nine-team field, and the winner of this contest will advance to the quarterfinals to play top-seeded Hill School on Nov. 8.