PALMYRA-- The Palmyra boys soccer team is used to having a member of the Brett family in goal.
The Panthers are also used to winning at home, and the combination of a strong goalkeeper and a deep senior class has them rolling into the postseason.
The second-smallest school in South Jersey is on track to play in the SJSCA tournament and earn the No. 1 seed in the South Jersey Group 1 playoffs.
Goalkeeper Liam Brett, whose older brothers Tim and James played in goal before him at Palmyra, is one of the leaders of the senior-laden Panthers, as he directs traffic and makes countless big saves in between the pipes.
“Starting with his leadership, he’s always chirping in the back and he sees the whole field,” Palmyra senior Gio Nahrwold said. “He really brings us up. In the beginning of the games, he’ll talk more and bring us up and bring the energy.”
“He makes those crazy saves, jumping off of one foot, pushing it to the side out of bounds,” Nahrwold said. “I don’t know how he does it, but we know he’s always going to bring his best for us. We know we have to bring him up by bringing our best.”
“I don’t want to take him for granted,” Palmyra head coach Mike Papenberg said. “It’s so nice to have someone back there that you can rely on and is dependable. He’s a leader in goal. I know we’re going to feel it when he graduates.”
“Next year is going to be different and we’ll see how much he really meant to us. He’s a great goalkeeper. He leads the team back there and again it’s nice to have someone back there you can rely on.”
Brett’s play in goal is just one of the reasons why the 12-1-1 Panthers are so difficult to beat.
They also boast a remarkable home record, as they haven’t lose on their home field in three years.
“There’s no one part,” Brett said. “We play well just because of one thing. Ever since we’ve been around, it’s been tough to play there. It’s a small field and we play to our advantages on the field.”
As if Palmyra needed anything else to drive it into the postseason, it’s looking to finally capture a sectional title after falling twice in the sectional title game.
The preparation for the South Jersey Group 1 playoffs comes in the form of the SJSCA tournament. The Panthers were ranked ninth in the last rankings.
“It’s definitely an accomplishment,” Brett said. “We’re such a small school, the second smallest in South Jersey, and to be going up against the big powerhouses in South Jersey is a big accomplishment.”
With everything going in their favor, the Panthers hope they reward the group of seniors with the one goal that’s escaped them.
“We’ve made it to two sectional finals, we’ve lost both of them,” Nahrwold said. “We’ve set ourselves up nicely with the first seed so everyone is hopefully going to have to come to us. We want to win it in our senior year.”