Ever since his days coaching the girls team at Shoreham-Wading River, Andrew Moschetti preached a possession-style of soccer. That continued to when he became the boys coach in 2009.
This year, however, could be a slight change of pace for the Wildcats. While Moschetti still wants his team to control possession and use smart passes to advance the ball, he’s also willing to allow a few more long balls. The idea is to create some more opportunities for strikers Doug DeMaio and Daniel Mahoney, both of whom are sophomores.
“We’re going to try to play a little more of a direct game,” Moschetti said. “It’s going to be a mix, a little change from the past.”
The Wildcats graduated a large core of last year’s veteran team that lost in the first round of the playoffs to Eastport-South Manor in overtime. To make up for some of the loss of veterans, the Wildcats hope to create mismatches by capitalizing on the ability of DeMaio and Mahoney to score up front.
Mahoney played on the junior varsity last year and led the team in goals. DeMaio played on varsity as a freshman but lost a good portion of his season to a concussion.
During the summer league, Mahoney scored seven goals for Shoreham.
“We’re looking for them to help us finish some goals,” Moschetti said.
The Wildcats lost their goalkeeper to graduation and will turn to senior Adam Piotrowski, who’s had to wait for his opportunity to become a starter.
“He did a great job in the summer and really improved tremendously from last year in terms of keeping control in the net and talking to the defense,” Moschetti said.
Senior Mike McDonnell returns at sweeper and will help anchor the defense. McDonnell is a four-year varsity player. Senior Anthony Cusano, a three-year varsity player, will play center midfield.
McDonnell and Cusano will be the team’s captains.
Senior Zach McAuley returns as an outside midfielder as well. McAuley doubles as the kicker on the football team.
The Wildcats will open the season without senior Kevin Brady, who’s recovering from an ACL injury, Moschetti said. He could return in mid- to late October, Moschetti said.
Competition in League VI will be strong again this year for Shoreham. The two teams that faced off in the county finals, East Hampton and John Glenn, are both back in the league. Moschetti said he expects both teams to be strong once again.
The Wildcats will play a pair of scrimmages before opening up the non-league season Monday at Kings Park on the first day of school. The league season opens Sept. 12 with a trip to Mount Sinai.
As a sophomore last year Ryan DiResta came into the season eyeing the starting goalkeeper job at Riverhead. He quickly seized that opportunity and went on to play on goal each game for the Blue Waves.
Now as a junior, DiResta returns a more experienced player who the Blue Waves will rely on to anchor the defense.
“This year we are really counting on him,” said Riverhead coach Lamine Traore. “He’s been fantastic.”
Traore said DiResta’s confidence has really improved from last year.
Offensively the Blue Waves will rely on Phil Barabanov at forward. He’s back after an injury derailed most of his season a year ago. Demar Mason returns on defense.
“They’re all excited,” Traore said.
The Blue Waves faced their share of struggles last year, winning just one game in League III. Most of the games were close, though. Riverhead dropped three games in overtime. Six losses were by one goal.
It’s an uphill climb for the Blue Waves, who don’t have the foundation of a strong youth program or many year-round players. That means the early part of the season requires a lot of work for the coaches to implement some basic concepts of how the team wants to play.
“We almost have to go over every single little detail,” Traore said. “We have just a little time for that.”
Traore said they try to remain positive looking ahead to the season, which begins Sept. 16 at Smithtown West. The Blue Waves will play two scrimmages before then, including a home game Saturday against Longwood.
At Bishop McGann-Mercy, the Monarchs will only field a junior varsity team this year. The Monarchs played last season with a roster of mostly freshmen and sophomores and struggled to compete at that level, losing some games by double digits. The JV team will open the season Sept. 12.