Kevin Tobin is constantly thinking about winning a Catholic League boys’ soccer championship.
From the moment he leaves his Port Richmond home on his morning commute to Roman Catholic to when he laces up his cleats before practice in the afternoon, the thought of capturing a Catholic League title stays on Tobin’s mind.
He has been to the title game for three straight seasons but has yet to leave as a champion.
“I don’t want it to be a fourth time,” the senior goalkeeper said.
Tobin isn’t the only member of his family working for the season to end with the Cahilllites atop the Catholic League. His younger brother, junior center-mid Jimmy Tobin, has been a key contributor in Roman Catholic’s pursuit of a title this year.
The Tobin brothers are following in the footsteps of their older brother, Mark Tobin, who was the goalkeeper when Roman Catholic last won the Catholic League championship, in 2015.
“To see them do good at that level and thrive, it makes me happy to see they’re doing well,” said Mark Tobin, now a senior goalkeeper on the Holy Family University men’s soccer team.
“It’s their time,” he said. “They’ve put in all of the work.”
So far, Kevin and Jimmy Tobin have the Cahillites in position to compete in the postseason. Roman Catholic finished the regular season 14-4 overall and 9-3 against Catholic League opponents. The No. 3-seeded Cahillites are set to play St. Joseph’s Prep, the No. 6 seed, on Friday in the quarterfinals.
Jimmy Tobin, who played goalkeeper during most of his soccer career, made the switch to the field as a sophomore to make the varsity team. He has five goals this season, including the game-winner against St. Joseph’s Prep midway through September.
Kevin Tobin, a four-year starter in net, has 12 shutouts and 33 saves this season. His 45 career shutouts rank first on Roman Catholic’s all-time list, coach Ray Destephanis said.
“He’s the X factor in the league this year,” Destephanis said. “He’s by far the best goalie in the league, and it’s a difference to have him back there if, for some reason, the team slips through or we make a mistake. He’s there to clean it up.”
The younger brothers were influenced by Mark Tobin to take soccer seriously.
In middle school, Mark Tobin started training with George McDermott a few days during the week at the Philadelphia Soccer Club in the Northeast to improve his game. It wasn’t long before Kevin and Jimmy Tobin joined the training sessions.
McDermott, who has helped groom goalkeepers for 30 years, played goalkeeper at Jacksonville University in the 1990s and earned all-Sun Belt Conference honors. He then played in the American Indoor Soccer Association for the Jacksonville Generals and Hershey Impact.
The trio did workouts that helped them improve their hand-eye coordination, quickness, footwork and other skills to develop into the players they are today.
McDermott "was really beneficial,” Mark Tobin said. “When I first started, I was still new to being a goalie. But he definitely helped my game in all aspects.”
Kevin Tobin is in the same position Mark Tobin was in as a senior. He’s coming off a loss in the Catholic League title game to Archbishop Wood with a chance to redeem himself.
Right after Mark Tobin lost the title game as a junior, he told Destephanis that they would be back and win it all the next season. He delivered the following year in a shootout victory over Father Judge.
“All three of us have been through similar situations,” Jimmy Tobin said. “It just really pushes us to win the [Catholic League] this year.”
Kevin and Jimmy Tobin could write the next chapter in their family’s soccer careers at Roman Catholic, and Mark Tobin will try to make sure he’s in attendance.
He attempts to make it to every one of his brothers’ games despite his own hectic schedule. Mark has had the Catholic League championship game circled on his calendar for a long time, and he hopes he’ll be able to celebrate on the field and repeat history with his family.
“There’s nothing more that I could want, to be honest,” he said. “They kind of control their own destiny.”