The 2013 season was a banner year for The Hill varsity boys' soccer team.
During the season, the team set more than a dozen individual and team records and finished with a 19-1 overall record, winning the Mid-Atlantic Prep League and the Pa. Independent Schools Athletic Association state championships and finishing as the co-top ranked prep school team in the nation. After the season, the impressive list of team accomplishments grew when four team members each signed a National Letter of Intent to play Division I college soccer.
Record-setting striker Colten Habecker, who was selected Pa. Gatorade Boys Soccer Player of the Year last week after being chosen as The Mercury's All-Area Player of the Year in December, will continue his career at Southern Methodist University while four-year standout center back Wyatt Fabian, The Mercury's All-Area Player of the Year in 2012, will move on to Lafayette College. Joining the duo in the Division I ranks will be goalkeeper Shaun Quinn and midfielder Louis Levin, who will team up at American University.
The boys' soccer team was at a crossroads when Fabian arrived in the fall of 2010. Hill struggled through a disappointing 2009 season, but with several young, talented players on the roster there was reason for optimism moving forward. With Fabian anchoring the middle of the back line for four seasons, the team embarked on arguably the most successful period in program history — during Fabian's Hill career, the team posted a record of 63-14-3, won three consecutive MAPL championships and appeared in three consecutive PAISAA championship matches, finally claiming the elusive crown in 2013.
"As far as I'm concerned, Wyatt has been the cornerstone for our program in every way — leader, anchor back, high character guy, campus role model,' said Hill head coach Chris Drowne. "He started our program's uptrend and because of the impact he has had on so many under-formers it will continue after he starts to impact Lafayette's program similarly.'
The Sinking Spring native attended Wyndcroft School, a local K-8 school that annually sends several graduates to The Hill. Wyndcroft's athletics teams use The Hill as their home base, so Fabian had played soccer on campus several times before applying. Because of his familiarity with The Hill and friendships with older students who enjoyed their Hill experience, Fabian saw Hill as an extension of Wyndcroft and knew he would be at home as a Hill student.
Fabian was in the starting 11 for the opening match of his third form year in what was the first of a school-record 80 consecutive starts throughout his career. The 2010 team finished with a 12-6 record and came within one win of the MAPL Championship. While the team was satisfied with the drastic improvement from the previous season, there still was a sense of something more to play for entering 2011.
"Our success that year was a bit of a surprise, but it also left us feeling like we had unfinished business having come so close to winning the MAPL,' Fabian said. "We set goals entering each season, but for the first three years we always came just a bit short of achieving all of our goals. I think having that motivation entering each offseason helped us stay hungry as a team. We knew we had the pieces to reach our goals, and the common buy-in helped eventually put us over the top.'
The team finished with a 16-4-1 record in 2011 and 16-3-1 record in 2012, winning the MAPL but falling in the PAISAA Championship to Haverford in each season. Hill entered the 2013 season with two goals: win a third consecutive MAPL Championship, and win the PAISAA Championship. With Fabian again anchoring a stingy backline, Hill was able to achieve both of those goals.
His outstanding play with both The Hill and the regional power Lehigh Valley United 95 club team garnered Fabian interest from several Division I programs, including Lafayette, The College of the Holy Cross, and Dartmouth. Fabian ultimately chose Lafayette based on the college's athletic and academic offerings best meeting his needs.
"I really liked the coach and the players on my visit, as well as the program's goals for the near future,' he said. "I felt at home on Lafayette's campus more so than at any other school, and feel like I will be able to succeed academically, as well.'
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With Fabian anchoring the back line, Drowne knew Hill was defensively sound for the immediate future but would need offensive stability in order to succeed. The addition of Habecker to the team in 2011 provided a perfect fit to the offensive piece of the team puzzle.
Habecker, a Douglassville native, was a prolific goal scorer during his three-year Hill career, but especially during his final season in which he scored a team-record 34 goals — eight more than his combined total from 2011 and 2012. Along with his selection as the All-Area Player of the Year, Habecker played in the High School All-American match. Drowne attributes Habecker's breakout final season to his never-ending desire to become a better player.
"Colten's legacy here will be the lesson that you need to add work rate to talent in order to achieve true greatness,' Drowne said. "He transformed from a talented striker in front of goal, to a complete player who was dangerous in all situations during his time here, which entirely was the result of his work on a daily basis.'
Habecker grew up in the same neighborhood as Jamie and Mark Forrest, and was exposed to the Hill through them and through Fabian, his teammate on the LVU ' 95 team. He attended Daniel Boone as a freshman before applying to Hill for his sophomore year.
Habecker netted two critical penalty kicks in the PAISAA title game to help Hill over the hump and earn its first prep state championship.
Several Division I college coaches took note of the characteristics that made Habecker successful in a Hill uniform. He ultimately chose SMU because of the feeling he got as soon as he set foot on campus.
"My college counselor told me about a gut feeling I would get when I set foot on the right campus,' he said. "As soon as I visited SMU, I knew it was the school for me. I feel like the school's combination of soccer and athletics gives me the best chance to succeed.'
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The graduation of three-year starting goalkeeper Ted Wolter in 2012 left a gaping void in the most important position on the field, one Drowne knew he would have to fill for the team to continue its upward trend. Quinn was a perfect replacement.
"As a former keeper, there is no position I place more of a premium on and expect more out of week in and week out. Shaun is the most consistent of the many excellent keepers The Hill has put on the pitch,' said Drowne. "As anyone who saw the PAISAA Championship will attest, the bigger the match, the better he is. He gets better each week and provides a calm and confidence that permeates an entire back line and team.'
Quinn found his way to Hill through playing club soccer with Fabian and Habecker on the LVU '95 team. Quinn was drawn to Hill because of the difficult curriculum, the school structure, and the opportunity to immediately be the team's top goalkeeper, and has enjoyed his Hill experience.
"I've been able to get everything out of The Hill that I had hoped academically and athletically,' he said. "Soccer certainly has been a highlight. I've never been a part of a team that had as much chemistry as we had this past year, and I'll never forget the atmosphere of the Lawrenceville match and the PAISAA championship. This past season was a truly special experience.'
Quinn posted a 31-4 record with 21 clean sheets during his two seasons and backstopped the team to the 2012 and 2013 MAPL Championships and the 2013 PAISAA championship. Quinn's goalkeeping brilliance was on full display during the PAISAA championship, as he made several key saves throughout the match and stopped three of four penalty kicks to help lead the team to victory. He was named to the All-Area first team in both 2012 and 2013, and in 2013 garnered consideration for the All-American team.
The head soccer coach at American, Todd West, was Quinn's coach on the regional ODP team. Though he also received scholarship offers from Hofstra University, Wake Forrest University, and California Polytechnic Institute, Quinn was drawn to American because of his familiarity with West and the school's location in Washington, D.C. He also enjoyed his official visit to campus and participated in a summer camp at American, which increased his love of the school. Quinn intends to major in Business with a concentration in finance.
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Levin arrived at The Hill for a post-graduate year in 2013 after a strong career at East Chapel Hill High School in Chapel Hill, N.C., where he was a two-time All-Conference player. Levin focused on basketball through his sophomore year of high school before deciding that he wanted to play soccer collegiately. Midway through his senior year of high school, he found Hill via an online search and contacted Drowne. A skilled yet gritty midfielder, Levin provided a controlling presence in the center of the pitch who was able to distribute wide and feed strikers Habecker and Mark Forrest, as well as finish when given the opportunity.
"Louis did all of the subtle, dirty, and hard work in controlling the ball and winning it back in the midfield when constantly outnumbered against the ever-popular five-man midfield, when we typically played four,' said Drowne. "That's only possible with a high-energy, competitive team guy playing that role. Each of our opponents boasted a high level center mid, but none stood out in match play against us thanks in part to Louis' play.'
Levin received his offer from American University while attending a camp at the school in the summer of 2013. He ultimately chose American over Wofford College because of the school's location in Washington, D.C., and the combination of good soccer and academics.
He also met Quinn while at the camp, and had the opportunity to talk to him at length about The Hill while there.
"Meeting Shaun at the American camp was helpful as a way to know one of my future teammates before setting foot on campus,' Levin said. "We talked a lot about the school, and it helped me to know a little more about Hill and gave me an idea of what to expect.'
Levin feels that the academic rigor and the daily structure at The Hill have helped develop his academic and time management skills, and that doing well in such a structured environment while also succeeding on the soccer pitch have boosted his confidence.
"I've had a great experience here in general,' he said. "The soccer season was incredibly fulfilling, and I really enjoyed being a part of the team with such great players and coaches. Academically, I feel like I've been able to develop even more and am ready for college.'