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Princeton-bound Frankie DeRosa of Henderson upholds family soccer tradition

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Frankie DeRosa’s favorite things
Food – Chicken Wings
Sports team – Juventus F.C.
Athlete – Andrea Pirlo (Juventus F.C./New York City F.C.)
Movie – “Kicking & Screaming”
TV show – “The Office”
Music – Hip-hop
City – Beijing
 

By DENNY DYROFF

WEST CHESTER  – People often talk about children doing various activities since they were “knee-high to a grasshopper.”

Frankie DeRosa has been playing football (the term as used everywhere in the world except North America) ever since he was “knee-high to a soccer ball.”

“I started playing soccer when I was three,” said DeRosa, who is now a key member of West Chester Henderson’s playoff-bound soccer team. “My dad put me in a local rec group in Kennesaw, Georgia – and he was my coach.

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“We moved to Sterling, Virginia when I was seven and they put me on a local travel team. When I was nine, our family moved to Pennsylvania. That was when I started playing for West Chester United. In 2009, West Chester United became Penn Fusion. We train at Thornbury Soccer Park and Delacy Soccer Complex.

“I’m on the Penn Fusion Elite 98 team. We’ve played in Kansas, Oklahoma, Disney World, England, Holland, Virginia, Rhode Island, North Carolina and Las Vegas – just to name a few. We go everywhere to play. We won regionals twice and went to nationals in 2013 and 2015. We also have won the State Cup four times – starting when we were Under-8. We’ve also won it in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.”

Right now, DeRosa’s main attention is directed toward the 2016 season on West Chester Henderson’s standout team.

“For Penn Fusion, I play at center mid where I’m more of a holding midfielder,” said DeRosa. “At Henderson, I usually play left or right midfielder – almost always as outside mid.”

DeRosa is joined in Henderson’s starting lineup by three teammates from Penn Fusion 98 — Aiden McFadden, Richie Schlentz and Max Zandi.

“We’ve all been playing together for 10 years,” said DeRosa. “At Henderson, Aiden and I played on junior varsity when we were freshmen.

All of us have been on varsity together since sophomore year. Max plays center back, Aiden plays attack and Richie plays outside mid.”

In the quartet’s first year at Henderson, the Warriors made it to the first round of the PIAA state tournament where they lost to Conestoga Valley.

“In our sophomore year, we lost on penalty kicks to Wissahickon in the District 1 quarterfinals and didn’t get to go to states,” said DeRosa. “Last season, we lost in the state quarterfinals to Conestoga.

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“Then, Conestoga beat us earlier this year 2-1 in a game on our field. Those results have really motivated us for this season. The ‘Stoga loss was our only loss this season. We’ve won every other game except for a tie with Sun Valley.”

This year looks to be Henderson’s year to advance deep in post-season play.

“Frankie is part of a real talented senior class that we were aware of ever since they were in Peirce Middle School,” said Henderson coach Sean Ryan. “It’s been interesting to see them develop.

“Frankie became a starter last season and played a majority of meaningful minutes. The team went to state quarterfinals and he received All-Ches-Mont recognition.

“This year, he’s leading the league in goals. But, it goes beyond that. It’s also the little things he does in a game. He defends his position really well. He runs everything down. He plays well on both sides of the ball.

“This year, Frankie has played five different positions – predominantly outside wide. He’s been an attacker, a pure center midfielder, an out-and-out striker and both wide midfield positions. His work off the ball is something that sets the standard for other players.”

Considering DeRosa’s game sense and versatility, it’s no surprise that Andrea Pirlo – the lynchpin for the Juventus team that has a five-year title-winning streak going in Italy’s Serie A – is his favorite player and main inspiration.

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“Juventus is my favorite team,” said DeRosa. “My dad and I are going to Torino in the spring to watch Juventus play.”

For now, DeRosa’s focus is on the Warriors’ fortunes.

“As a coach, it’s been fun to watch Frankie, Aiden, Richie and Max as they’ve grown up,” said Ryan, who played soccer at Downingtown/Downingtown East and the University of Pittsburgh.

All four have already accepted scholarships to play in college — McFadden at Notre Dame, Schlentz and Zandi at Villanova and DeRosa at Princeton.

“I think I’ll see playing time at Princeton next year but I don’t know if I’ll be a starter,” said DeRosa. “I’ll definitely play in the midfield. I’m not sure what I’ll major in – maybe business or chemistry.”

A top academic student, De Rosa has taken many honors and A.P. courses. He also has participated in the “Physics Olympics” at Henderson and is president of the student senate.

DeRosa is not the only soccer player in the family. His father Frank played club and high school soccer in Wilton, Connecticut and then played lacrosse at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. His sister Catherine, a freshman, plays for Henderson’s varsity this year, and his other sister Mary, a junior, is a key player on the junior varsity squad.

Frankie DeRosa is also not the only one in the family who is a leading scorer for the 2016 Warriors

“As of today (October 15), Frankie has 17 goals and 10 assists and I have 12 goals and 11 assists,” said Catherine DeRosa, whose nickname is “Bootsie.”

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She also began playing soccer almost as soon as she was able to walk.

“I’ve been playing soccer since I was three,” said Catherine DeRosa. “I love playing. Frankie and I have always had a competitive rivalry since Day One.

“My family is really competitive in the first place. We’d play as a family – my dad and Frankie against me, my mom and my sister. Whenever I beat him in soccer – even if I just scored one goal on him – it was a big thing.

“I’ve played for West Chester United/Penn Fusion since I was eight as an attacking center mid or a holding center mid. I love scoring and I’ve been able to score a lot for Henderson’s team this season.

“For the last two years, watching Frankie through the whole recruiting process has inspired me to work harder – in school and on the field. Frankie always has been an inspiration for me.”

Frankie also has been an inspiration for his Warrior teammates.

“Frankie has had a great influence on our team – through his play and his personality,” said Ryan. “He always has a smile on his face.”

 

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