St. John’s versatility makes it hard to predict how any time machine match might go. The Eagles were smart and talented enough to adapt to any style of soccer, be it an offensive game, a defensive game, a physical game, a finesse game or something in between.
“That was the kind of team that comes along once in a long while,” said Crowell. “We could win any way. If teams wanted to bang, we could match that and we could also run. One thing that always came up was the team speed — we had speed everywhere, but we had players talented enough to play with skill at that high speed.”
Captains Tim Prior (an All-New England selection at striker) and Slingerland (an All-American at midfield) could be lethal with the ball. So too could striker Jeff Dell’Orfano, as well as Sean Bishop, who could seemingly make an accurate pass from any position on the pitch.
“Looking back, the most comfortable I ever felt on a soccer field was playing with the Prep that year,” said Slingerland, who played at Georgetown University. “I felt like I had so much time with the ball because we were all on the same page and there were so many options.”
Owen Fox, one of the few young players on the 2006 team, had an amazing state tournament with two goals in the state final. He was also an invaluable weapon on set pieces because of his ability to throw in, giving the Prep’s opponents yet another thing to worry about.
On defense, Craig Harvey was an outstanding goalkeeper with 10 shutouts. Christian Woelfel had a solid season in the back and upperclassmen Ben Ersing (a captain), Jessie Marks, Dere Amaral, Mike Fellows, Ryan Lanigan and Mike Caruso were additionally valuable.
“What sticks out in my mind was the fact that we were such a team. You look at all the guys who went on; quite a few guys played pretty good college soccer,” said Slingerland. “There wasn’t one guy who did all the heavy lifting. It was really spread out. The ultimate team.”