In August of 2010, forward Max Kroschwitz suffered an injury that would sideline him for parts of two soccer seasons.
"It was right at the beginning of the season," said Kroschwitz, recalling the start of his sophomore year at Palisades High in Kinternsville, Pa. "I was playing high school ball when I got a right shoulder separation and some torn ligaments."
Kroschwitz was back on the field with the Players Development Academy of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy in January of 2011, but only briefly.
"Then it happened again last year that I got hurt again," Kroschwitz said. "I remember that I only played about five games of last academy season and then, I was out for most of last Academy season. It was pretty devastating."
Having fully recovered thanks to an off-season training and rehabilitation regimen, Kroschwitz is making up for lost time. His team-high 12 goals have paced the Players Development Academy's under-15/16 squad to an 11-1-1 overall record.
"It was my right shoulder, but it's better now," said Kroschwitz, who stands 5-foot-11 and weighs 165 pounds. "I got cleared about six months ago to lift weights again."
The Players Development Academy has been on a tear since losing their first game, a 2-0 setback to the PA Classics of the East Conference's Mid-Atlantic Division. PDA has gone 11-0-1 with five shutouts and outscored their opposition 38-10 during that time.
Although Players Development has yet to play a game in the East Conference Liberty Division, it should be challenged on April 14 against the Mid-Atlantic Division-leading Baltimore Bays (1-0, 7-2-2), who are also of the East Conference.
Last fall, Kroschwitz led his high school team to the district semifinals with 18 goals and 26 assists. This past Saturday, Kroschwitz's hat trick accounted for his team's second, third and fourth goals to break a 1-1 tie in an eventual 5-2 victory over Seacoast United.
"The team has been incredible," Kroschwitz said. "PDA has one of the strongest defenses in the nation, and we have best midfields in the nation."
But it's not like Kroschwitz shoulders the burden himself.
"We're playing a possession-based 4-3-3, and we like our wide backs to attack. The main difference for our group this year is being alert in transition," said director of coaching Gerry McKeown.
Kroschwitz credits teammates such as forward Kazari Trought (six goals), midfielder Zach Knudson (five), forward Alex Neumann (four), midfielder Leandro Lemache (three), forward Yannick Ntone Kouo (two) for their play.
Midfielders Vincent Marne, Matthew Mangini and Patrick Devlin, and defender Noel Guzman have all scored once, and goalies Mike Renna and Kevin Silva stand tall behind defenders Henry Flugstad-Clarke and Christian Wirth.
"Most of my goals, and most our team's goals start to come from the back and the midfield," Kroschwitz said. "They work the ball up to our forwards, and we usually end up finishing on a team goal."
Magini is the team captain, and McKeown is also high on two of the younger players in midfielder Sean Wilson and forward Roberto DeAlmeida.
"Our schedule has been favorable, and we really can't measure ourselves until we start into league play," said McKeown about the team that is coached by Sam Nellins and George Nazario.