Senior goalkeeper Winter Fondi returns after helping Quaker Valley to WPIAL title
A driving force behind the Quaker Valley boys soccer team's run to a WPIAL Class AA title last season was a stingy defense that held 16 teams scoreless.
One year later, the team is off to similar results.
The Quakers picked up two shutouts last week as they blanked Keystone Oaks, 5-0, and Central Valley, 6-0. The 2013 defense is a highly experienced group and is finding success thanks in part to three-year starting goalkeeper Winter Fondi.
“The core four in the back and I are all seniors,” Fondi said. “It is great to have. Three of the four in front of me are returning starters so we should be really strong. We always have a couple things we need to work on in practice. But we are keeping the ball out of the net, which is the goal.”
Fondi is a co-captain, along with senior defender Matt Delie. Having the two senior captions — both three-year starters — on defense has given QV an instant boost, as has the strong play of seniors Max Nungesser, Hugh Rice and Harrison West.
“They make everyone better with their leadership,” coach Gene Klein said. “We are seeing players like (Nungesser) and (West) playing with more confidence because they are playing next to those two.”
While Fondi may be stuck in front of the net, he makes his presence felt by communicating with his teammates.
“That was one of those things as a sophomore we worked a lot with him on,” Klein said. “As the years progressed, there is no hesitation with him. He is what you want in a goalkeeper barking out information. The info he gives is very positive and is the correct comments to help the team.
“It is comforting as a coach to have a guy like (Fondi) in the net. I think he is one of the best goalies in Western Pennsylvania.
“His leadership qualities have impressed me the most.”
Stepping in as the varsity goalie as a sophomore was a growing experience. The nervousness he felt in 2011 — when the Quakers went 11-6-1 and recorded 10 shutouts — has turned into a passion for the high-stress position.
“I really love the adrenaline rush of making a save and all the stuff you have to deal with,” Fondi said. “You get to be a leader, and you are a really important part of the team.”
While Kleisn said Fondi has areas he can improve, the confidence he brings to the squad cannot be matched.
“There is never a time he goes up for a ball that we won't come away cleanly,” Klein said. “Sometimes if you have a goalkeeper that can't dominate the box, it makes the entire team shaky.”
Fondi's presence will be needed if the team hopes to make a return trip to the WPIAL playoffs.
“We want to win the WPIAL championship in back-to-back years,” Fondi said. “That'd be great.”