The late Walter Bahr remains a legendary figure in American and Philadelphia soccer for his 1950 World Cup heroics and decades of coaching. A Kensington native, Bahr honed his skills with the Lighthouse Boy’s Club. He is arguably the club’s most famous alum, no small feat considering its great history: Lighthouse has won five James P. McGuire Cups as U19 Boys US Youth Soccer National Champions.
It’s fitting then that the two teams that competed for the first Walter Bahr Cup, awarded to the U19 Boys State Cup champion, Lower Merion SC Rats and Lehigh Valley United, have already clinched their places in the 2019 US Youth Soccer National Championships.
On Sunday, June 2, LMSC and LVU, who met in the 2018 U18 Boys Eastern Pennsylvania State Cup Final, squared off at Classics Soccer Park. The Rats came away with a 3-0 victory Jared Dillon—Bill Peterman Award winner as Southeastern Pennsylvania Soccer Hall of Fame male player of the year—scored the clinching goal in the second half.
LMSC's Harrison Malone dribbles through traffic as his former ODP teammate, Bryce Evans, looks on for LVU. Photo credit: Sideline Photos.
As Lower Merion SC’s run at the state level comes to a close, the significance of the team’s latest achievement is felt by the players who have been there from the start.
“It’s just a huge honor,” Rats captain Harrison Malone, a 2017 US Youth Soccer ODP national champion, said of winning the Walter Bahr Cup. “We’ve been competing in (the State Cup) for a really long time. Every year, we’ve gone neck and neck with LVU and some other teams. To win it in our final year as a team, together, means a lot.”
The Rats previously won a regional title in 2016 to reach nationals before heading back this season via a US Youth Soccer National League Division championship.
“I think there’s a sense of urgency,” said goalkeeper Luke Smith, who’s heading to Bucknell in the fall. “This is our last year. We’re not going to be all together to get a chance like this. We’re all going on to college, doing different things. I think this year, more than any other, we’re really focused on winning the biggest thing we can.”
They’ve already accomplished that at the state level, where Lower Merion SC Rats will have a permanent place on the Walter Bahr Cup.