A clear view of the postseason: Pioneers primed for playoff run

Senior-laden Clearview has been hardened by the challenges of the last two seasons. The Pioneers’ confidence has grown with each game in 2019, when they took a season-long unbeaten streak into the second week of October.

Clearview senior Jack Accorsi attempts to keep possession with Highland’s Liam Lamaina closing in. (RYAN LAWRENCE, South Jersey Sports Weekly)

Jack Accorsi and Kevin Donohue have been on this path before, but before they hang up their Clearview soccer kits for good, they’d like to take care of some unfinished business.

The fact that they have the Pioneers back on path toward a possible championship is a testament to their work, and the collective efforts of a senior-laden team in 2019.

After being a part of Clearview teams that went a combined 18-17-3 in the last two seasons, Accorsi, Donohue, and the rest of the close knit group of 12th graders established the Pioneers as the best team in South Jersey entering October. Clearview ran its season-long unbeaten streak to 13 with a 1-0 win over Williamstown on Oct. 8.

Five weeks into the season, with the prestigious South Jersey Coaches Association Tournament on deck, Clearview looks nothing at all like the team that finished with a losing record two years ago. 

What changed?

“I think we’re doing very well with the team as a group,” Accorsi said. “We’ve been playing with each other for almost all of our lives. We know how we all play.”

Clearview’s Vincent Fedoryka tries to work up the sideline with Highland’s Tyler McConnell giving chase. (RYAN LAWRENCE, South Jersey Sports Weekly)

“It feels good to get us back to that point,” said Donohue, a fellow four-year varsity player. “We put a lot of effort into this year and we’ve been waiting for this for a long time, so hopefully we’ll get something good out of it.”

The season is not unlike the first varsity year for Accorsi and Donohue. When they were freshmen, Clearview began its season with a 10-game unbeaten streak. The 2016 Pioneers had just three losses on the season, but one of those came to Egg Harbor Township in the quarterfinals of the South Jersey Group 4 tournament. 

In 2019, Clearview expects to at least compete for a sectional championship and then take their talents to the state level, too.

“It’s our last run,” Accorsi said. “Winning Group 4 states, I’ve wanted to do that since freshman year. That’s the ultimate goal, winning Group 4.”

Clearview’s Jack Accorsi celebrates a goal with teammate Anthony Careless. (RYAN LAWRENCE, South Jersey Sports Weekly)

“The next few weeks are really important,” added Donohue. “We’ve clinched the conference, but that doesn’t mean anything. We still have to keep going.”

Clearview, 12-0-1 entering play on Oct. 11, scored a 2-0 win over perennial South Jersey power Delran late last month to announce itself as a legitimate contender. The only blemish on the Pioneers schedule? A scoreless tie two weeks ago to reigning Group 4 state champ Washington Township. 

Another pivotal moment in the evolution of Clearview’s journey — from contender to rebuilding team to contender again in the last three years — may have come in the Coaches Tournament last year, when they hung with Washington Township before dropping a 3-2 decision.

“I wouldn’t say there was a turning point,” Accorsi said. “From the beginning of (this) season, we knew we had a deep senior class. We knew we could be special.”

With 10 seniors among its 11 starters, and 14 seniors on the roster in total, the now-or-never mindset could be the secret sauce in Clearview’s recipe for a memorable 2019 season. The majority of the Pioneers are old enough to remember the team’s run when they were freshmen and they’ve been hardened by the path they’ve had to take as a team in the last two seasons.

Clearview’s Kevin Donohue goes airborne with Highland’s Will Brennan for the ball. (RYAN LAWRENCE, South Jersey Sports Weekly)

Clearview’s veteran roster knows opportunity doesn’t present itself every year. And it realizes this is its last shot at adding some hardware to the school’s trophy case.

“We have a lot of senior leadership on the team this year,” coach Dodd Terry said. “The team is really coming together. We had high hopes coming into the season. So really we’re just trying to get better with each game and continue to grow throughout the season. … Kevin Donohue and Jack Accorsi are both four-year varsity soccer players, they are our co-captains. Pearse Costello, Robbie Albertson, Anthony Careless, J.J. Bilderback, Vincent Fedoryka,  Zane Martin our goalkeeper — there’s too many to name. It’s a total group effort. All of the seniors, the whole class.”

It’s a class that entered this season knowing what was possible, and that winning mindset has paid dividends so far.

“We knew we had great potential, we just had to stick with it and never let up,” Donohue said, “and we haven’t.”

Clearview’s Cody Scully tries to fire a shot through Highland’s defense. (RYAN LAWRENCE, South Jersey Sports Weekly)