You could have excused Archmere’s soccer program for not wanting to play a game six days after a car crash that ultimately took the life of one of their own, but that’s not the choice they made.
Junior Anthony Penna died Tuesday as the result of a car crash, and Thursday’s game against M.O.T. Charter presented the first opportunity for his teammates to honor his memory on the pitch.
The Auks took to the field their school calls the “Patio”, and controlled much of the contest in an 8-2 Diamond State Athletic Conference victory.
Zach Dainton, who scored the opening goal and added two assists, said while it wasn’t an easy decision to play the game, it was the right call.
“We decided that’s what we wanted to do as a program, because that’s what the Penna family would want us to do. Not just do nothing, we wanted to play for him, and win for him.
“For a lot of us, it’s our safe haven. It’s where we can really focus and get away from the outside world. It was nice to play.”
Win they did, Danton scored on a give-and-go from Will Schatzman in the 8th minute, and then Schatzman pounced on a rebound of Dan Marcolongo’s cross four minutes later to quickly push the lead to 2-0.
Andrew Rosenbaum scored on a 1v1 against the M.O.T. keeper in the 36th minute, and the 3-0 halftime lead proved to hold up despite back-to-back goals by Emmanuel Ikeocha that briefly brought the lead down to 4-2.
Schatzman added a goal and another assist to his tally in the second half, and said he felt the performance properly honored Penna.
“He would have loved it, I wish he could have been with us. He might not have loved the two goals (against), but he would have loved it.”
The junior added that Penna brought an energy to the Auks that will be hard to replace.
“Anthony was a great kid. He brought so much positivity and he was hard working. He wasn’t the best player, but he put so much work in, and he’d always bring the the same smile and positivity, I can’t remember a time he wasn’t smiling.”
In the end, it was the Auks getting a welcomed chance to smile, as opposed to the grief they will likely feel with the viewing and funeral services for Penna over the next two days.
Dainton echoed Schatzman’s thoughts that this was a great way to honor their No. 15, a uniform that all the Auks sported during pre-game warmups.
“I think we did. We wanted to do what he did for us, work hard, work as a team, and just honor what he’d want us to do.”
Archmere will move on from Thursday’s game, they have the excitement of a contest at the Philadelphia Union’s Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pennsylvania against the Charter School of Wilmington to look forward to, but it’s clear No. 15 will be in their hearts and minds, forever. That’s a pretty easy choice.