Before the start of the season, assistant coach Domenick Raimo handed out slips of paper to members of the Delran boys soccer team with a specific goal for each player on the team: He wanted each player to work towards the individual goal written on the slip while also — most importantly — working together toward yet another postseason run for the Bears.
Drew Roskos, who entered his sophomore season this year after scoring just one goal in the only four games that Delran was able to play last year due to COVID, looked forward to making an impact in 2021, but was understandably unsure what his year might look like after limited games as a freshman.
“Coming into this year, the whole team knew the goal was to win a state championship,” Roskos said. “I just wanted to help the team accomplish that goal however I could … I didn’t know what to expect in terms of what I could do on the field, but I did want to take every opportunity to prove myself after not really having much of a chance to last season.”
Raimo, the program’s most recent player to score more than 30 goals in a single season as a member of the Bears’ 2003 state championship team, handed Roskos a piece of paper that predicted a season of 15 goals and 10 assists from the young, anxious sophomore.
Roskos would go on to break his coach’s nearly two-decade-long streak as the player with the most single-season goals in recent memory for Delran.
After registering 33 goals — good for top five in the state and the most this season in South Jersey — and helping his team to a 21-2-2 record that saw the Bears capture a Group 2 state championship, Roskos is South Jersey Sports Weekly’s 2021 Boys Soccer Player of the Year.
Coming into the season, first year head coach Tommy Orr believed Roskos had the potential to make a strong impact on the field if he got the opportunity after a tough freshman year.
“I know that we had a lot of talent and a good group coming back,” Orr said. “At any point in the season, any goal scorer can really step into the spotlight and I knew [Drew] would be one of those guys that could do it.
“He had a great preseason and great run in scrimmages that showed he was focused and dialed in for more playing time this year,” the coach added.
According to Orr, the characteristic that sets Roskos apart is his work ethic and ability to achieve what he wants despite challenges and obstacles out of his control that might cause others to waiver. After just four games in his freshman year and a season-ending elbow injury that kept Roskos from wrestling, months of hard work and grit helped the sophomore achieve his current success.
“With him only being a sophomore, it was amazing to see his focus change despite the things going on in his life,” Orr said. “Being positive about his circumstances and continuing to put all that work in through all that is just who he is.
“Drew is the epitome of a ‘never give up’ attitude: He works tirelessly and had a stellar year this year because of it,” the coach added.
Roskos scored a goal in each of the Bears’ first 10 games to start the season, but he also notched a goal in 13 of the team’s last 14 games, including back-to-back hat tricks against Overbrook and Point Pleasant Borough to kick off the NJSIAA South Jersey Group II playoffs.
Roskos also scored the deciding goal in the semifinal game against Cinnaminson, a 1-0 victory, avenging a 1-0 regular-season loss from earlier in the year. In total, he scored 12 goals in Delran’s six playoff games between the sectional and state championships the Bears secured this season.
“I always tried to keep things in perspective for the guys throughout the year, and I was constantly reminding them that big players show up in big moments and Drew, amongst other guys on our team as well, did just that,” Orr said.
“He stepped up to the occasion again and again.”
“I felt ready going into the year, but those last few weeks there I just felt even more locked in and was ready to help us win a state championship,” Roskos said. “I owe so much of what I was able to do this season to our coaches.
“It’s even easier to go out there and play when you love your team and are pushing each other every day like we did,” he added.