In Mark Schuhl’s freshman year at Paul VI High School, the boys soccer team finished 5-14-2. The next season, the Eagles won two games.
Just two years later, Schuhl is back on Paul VI’s roster after playing for Continental FC Delco in Development Academy soccer as a junior. And it’s as if he’s joined a new high school altogether: the Eagles went 6-2 in the first eight games of the 2019 season.
Two years removed from just two wins, Paul VI’s boys soccer team is suddenly thinking about making a playoff run.
“Honestly, it’s a good group of kids,” Paul VI first-year coach Garrett McVeigh said. “I think they have something special here and (Schuhl) let them know that. The first couple of scrimmages they didn’t really realize it and then we get a couple of practices going and the chemistry was developing. (Schuhl), (Matthew) Guerrero, Tyler McKlaine. The seniors and juniors have been stepping up.”
The Eagles obviously have enjoyed the boost of getting both Schuhl and McKlaine back in the lineup after they didn’t play high school soccer in 2019. Schuhl entered the sixth week of the season with five goals and six assists in 11 games, including nailing a penalty kick that sent a game against Cinnaminson into overtime.
“(Mark) came in with a leadership role from the start,” McVeigh said. “He knew what he wanted to do this year, it’s his senior year, a special year for a kid, and he talked to the other seniors. He told the guys he didn’t want it to just be another year, it needs to be the year we do something.”
After the aforementioned game at Cinnaminson, a 2-1 loss in double overtime, South Jersey Sports Weekly caught up with Schuhl.
SJSW: How long have you been playing soccer at a serious level?
Schuhl: Probably like sixth grade. In sixth grade, I took that next step in playing high-level club.
SJSW: What got that going?
Schuhl: My dad (Scott Schuhl), he really pushed me. He saw potential in me, saw that I could be a really good player and it obviously paid off.
SJSW: Did your dad play soccer?
Schuhl: Yeah, he played at King’s College. And he played club, TBAA, in Blackwood.
SJSW: Did you ever play any other sports?
Schuhl: Wrestling. I stopped in sixth grade.
SJSW: Yeah, I know wrestling is big in Blackwood.
Schuhl: Yeah, at Highland.
SJSW: Looking at Paul VI’s record this year, it’s been quite a turnaround since you got here. What’s been working well?
Schuhl: Our coaching staff, it’s a whole new coaching staff. And the guys I’ve been with since freshman year, we’ve really come together. We saw the potential in ourselves and ran with it. We’re believing in us.
SJSW: What do you think about what’s possible in the coming month?
Schuhl: Our goal is to at least make it to the (sectional) finals and possibly win. But right now we’re just taking it one game at a time.
SJSW: What’s your single favorite thing about soccer?
Schuhl: Probably scoring goals. [Laughs]. I love the feeling of scoring goals. I love scoring goals.
SJSW: You got a clutch one today obviously. I saw you get taken down more than once today. And then you got carded, which I thought was strange.
Schuhl: I don’t even know. I get called on – I don’t even know, the high school refs are killer, frustrating. I just try to put it in the back of my head and not think about it.
SJSW: Let’s have some fun. If you could pick any kid from South Jersey and put him on Paul VI’s roster this year, who are you picking?
Schuhl: Oooh. Kevin Witkoski from St. Augustine Prep.
SJSW: Who is the toughest kid on your team?
Schuhl: Connor Buechele.
SJSW: Who is the funniest?
Schuhl: Brendan O’Brien.
SJSW: How about the smartest?
Schuhl: Oooh, that’s a tough question. Probably Carp, Anthony Carpinella.
SJSW: What’s your favorite thing to do outside of soccer?
Schuhl: Hang out with my teammates.
SJSW: What do you guys get up to?
Schuhl: FIFA, FIFA (video game). We grind FIFA. We just play each other, see who is the best, winner stays on.
SJSW: Do you have a favorite pro athlete?
Schuhl: Eden Hazard (of Real Madrid).
SJSW: Favorite movie?
Schuhl: Can I do a TV show?
Schuhl: “Breaking Bad.”
SJSW: Awesome. Are you looking forward to the new “Breaking Bad” movie “El Camino” then I guess?
Schuhl: Yeah, the movie, I can’t wait.
SJSW: Do you have a favorite class at Paul VI?
Schuhl: Yeah, I don’t take it anymore, but Latin. Latin was my favorite class for three years.
SJSW: Do you know where you’re going to play in college?
Schuhl: Not yet, I’m looking at King’s. And I’ve thought about Camden County because my grades aren’t where I think they should have been. Camden County, Bloomsburg, Drew and Ramapo.
SJSW: Do you have a favorite teacher at Paul VI?
Schuhl: Mr. (Frank) Robinson.
SJSW: Do you have a motto or words to live by?
Schuhl: You know, the one that I think I’ve carried through is taking one day at a time at trying to be the best player I can be every day.
SJSW: Last one. If we’re at an All-Star Game or the state finals and they’re announcing rosters, what song would you want to come out to when you’re introduced?
Schuhl: Ooooh, what’s my walk-out song? [Laughs]. Probably the team song, “Want Beef? 2.0” by YSN Flow.