It was a soccer game that could have been an episode of Family Ties.
When the Muhlenberg men’s soccer team defeated Moravian, 5-0, last night, four of the players who contributed were two sets of brothers – junior midfielder Jacob Joseph, freshman forward Dan Joseph, junior forward Jeremy Katz and sophomore midfielder Oliver Katz.
Their coach was Sean Topping ’98, the oldest of three Topping brothers to play for the Mules. And patrolling the Greyhound sideline was Todd Ervin ’98, the middle of three Ervin brothers to play for Muhlenberg.
Brothers wearing the Cardinal & Grey is a Mule tradition that dates back almost 20 years. The Josephs, Katzes, Toppings and Ervins are just four of nine sets of brothers to have played for Muhlenberg during that span:
- Cecconi David (2003), Matt (2007-10)
- Ervin Eric (1991-94), Todd (1994-97), Dave (1996-99)
- Hohman Eric (1994-97), Johan (1996-99)
- Joseph Jacob (2010-12), Dan (2012)
- Katz Jeremy (2010-12), Oliver (2011-12)
- Leischner Greg (2005-08), Tim (2008-11)
- Ryan Pat (2000-02), Shannon (2000-02)
- Smallwood Evan (2000-03), Ryan (2002-05)
- Topping Sean (1994-97), Shane (1996-99), Peter (1998-2001)
The City of Brotherly Love may be about an hour south of Muhlenberg, but Varsity Field in Allentown is the “Pitch of Brotherly Love.”
“It was pretty neat back then – at one point we had three sets of brothers and everyone was starting or contributing,” said Topping, who also played with a son of a former Muhlenberg varsity player (Brian Krug ’97, son of Lee Krug ’68) and coached another (Justin Henning ’04, son of Jon Henning ’78).
“In high school, you don’t think about it, but when you’re in college and afterwards when you look back you realize how neat it was – especially in our case, winning championships and going to NCAA Tournaments together.”
Jacob Joseph played in the NCAA Tournament as a freshman in 2010 and would welcome the opportunity to go back with his brother as a teammate, although it’s not something he pushed for.
“I told him that I really enjoyed my experience and that he would fit in well,” said Jacob. “But I didn’t want to influence his decision by encouraging him too much. I wanted it to be his decision.”
Brotherly love turned into brotherly pride last night when Dan Joseph scored his first career goal seconds after entering the game late in the first half. Just four games into his career, Dan is only one behind Jacob for the family lead in goals scored for the Mules.
“I’m excited for him,” said Jacob, who was on the field at the time to help his brother celebrate. “He’s a good player and a hard worker, and he deserves it.”
The Katz brothers got into the act in the second half, with Jeremy assisting Oliver on the third goal of the game. It was the first career goal for Oliver and the first career point for Jeremy. It also was the first brother-to-brother pass resulting in a goal since 2003, when Ryan Smallwood assisted Evan against McDaniel in what became a Centennial Conference championship season for the Mules.
It’s no coincidence that the success of the program (an active streak of 26 consecutive non-losing seasons) has gone hand-in-hand with the steady stream of brothers that have come through the Red Doors of Muhlenberg.
“It says a lot about the program that an older sibling would come here and a younger sibling would follow,” said Topping. “It makes it a close-knit family when you have so many brothers come through, and others can see it.”
“Muhlenberg is a homey place,” says Jacob Joseph. “People who come here really enjoy being here. When [prospective students] get an inside view from a family member, they tend to like it.”