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Heights keeper Weaver is S.J. player of year

There was a period during the middle of this season when the Haddon Heights boys' soccer team played eight consecutive games without allowing a goal.

Haddon Heights keeper Jon Weaver. (David M Warren/Staff Photographer)
Haddon Heights keeper Jon Weaver. (David M Warren/Staff Photographer)Read more

There was a period during the middle of this season when the Haddon Heights boys' soccer team played eight consecutive games without allowing a goal.

A shot finally beat Heights keeper Jon Weaver in the 77th minute of a 2-1 win over New Egypt. That came after almost 12 hours of scoreless soccer.

Weaver barely noticed.

"As the season started, it was hard for me to get going mentally," said Weaver, this season's Inquirer Player of the Year in South Jersey boys' soccer.

"One thing I had to learn early on is that it's not about the shutouts; it's not about the stats. It's all about what I have right in front of me. All that matters is the 'W.' "

It's a fitting attitude because, in a season in which Weaver led his team to the Group 1 state title, he quite literally did everything he could to help his team win.

Included were burying the game-winning penalty kick in the state semifinals, and setting up two of his team's three goals with booming services in the Garnets' 3-0 shutout of Harrison in the state final.

Weaver finished with 15 shutouts, a Haddon Heights single-season record. In three years as a starter, he recorded 41 clean sheets, also a school record.

The sectional title that Weaver helped Haddon Heights win as a sophomore was the team's first since 1975. The state title this year was Heights' first since 1974, and only the second in program history. Heights finished 19-3-3 this season, tying the team's single-season record for wins.

To say that Weaver is the most successful and decorated keeper in the history of Haddon Heights soccer is an easy call. But ask the team's veteran coach, Jeff Eppright, about his star goalie, and the first thing he talks about is the type of legacy not chronicled in a record book.

"He's one of the hardest-working players I've ever had," said Eppright, in his 25th season as Garnets coach. "Every practice, every game, he's giving 100 percent.

"The experience he gave us this year, the confidence, the leadership. It was incredible. He always seemed to make the right decision."

Eppright often has said that Weaver was athletic enough to play midfielder. Weaver is 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds and is athletic with great range in net, and he has as strong a leg as any field player in South Jersey.

But, at heart, he's always been a keeper. He was in his element directing traffic in net, developing chemistry with his defenders - particularly with fellow senior Kevin Miller the team's tenacious marking back - and constantly coming up big for his team.

"I really hate saying that it all relies on me," said Weaver, who will play college soccer at Messiah College, "because we have 10 other guys out there working to keep the ball out of the net one way or another. It's everyone working out there for each other.

"That's what made this season so special."