Andrew Moschetti found himself in unfamiliar territory last fall. For the first time as a varsity coach at Shoreham-Wading River, beginning with the girls soccer team and now with the boys, his team fell short of the playoffs.
It was a humbling experience for Moschetti, who first started coaching with the girls in 2006.
Last season, the boys headed into the final game of the regular season needing at least a tie to earn a spot in the postseason. On the road at John Glenn, the Wildcats fell 2-0, bringing a disappointing end to a slide that saw Shoreham lose four of its last five games.
This season won’t necessarily be any easier for the Wildcats. The team lost six starters from last year, leaving some big holes to plug.
“We’re kind of in a rebuilding process,” Moschetti said. “More than half of our starting lineup from last year has left. So we’re right in the process now of looking at a lot of kids that are coming up from JV along with kids who weren’t starters last year to fill those spots. The kids have been working hard so far in preseason.”
The Wildcats begin the season with the goal of getting back into the postseason. The schedule won’t be very forgiving. They’re stacked up against perennially strong programs in John Glenn, East Hampton, Bayport-Blue Point and Miller Place. Even Amityville has become stronger in recent years.
“We got some tough competition, but I think with the group of guys we have and the work ethic they have, it’s definitely an attainable goal,” Moschetti said.
The Wildcats had a big turnout for tryouts, which started Aug. 25. Moschetti said about 52 players came out for the junior varsity and varsity.
Some of the key returnees for the Wildcats include Mark Ceruti and Doug DeMaio. Ceruti, a third-year varsity player, will help anchor the midfield and will be the guy responsible for distributing the ball across all points of the field, Moschetti said.
DeMaio has suffered through two injury-plagued seasons since joining the varsity as a freshman. His last two seasons were cut short by concussions. Moschetti said DeMaio, a striker, is healthy to start this season and is bigger and more physical.
Peter Stirpe is another returnee who’s entering his third year on varsity. He’ll play in the midfield and will be an important part of the attack on offense.
The Wildcats lost their starting goalkeeper from last year, so they’ll be turning to Matt Kirby, who was the backup last season.
Moschetti said there’s still plenty to be decided about many of the other positions on the field.
“We’re going to see who wants that spot and wants that starting role,” he said. “Those kids who work hard and show that they want it are going to be the guys who start [Sept. 8] against Eastport.”
One bonus for Moschetti this season has been the addition of an assistant coach. Raul Munoz was the junior varsity coach the past two seasons and will coach with Moschetti on varsity this season. Moschetti said it’s the first time as a varsity coach at Shoreham that he’ll have an assistant.
Craig Ceruti, a Shoreham graduate who played soccer at St. Joseph’s College, will coach junior varsity.
The Wildcats begin the league season Thursday, Sept. 11, at home against Mount Sinai.
The season began as so many before. In the first four games of the league season last year for Riverhead, the Blue Waves were outscored 11-1, losing each game. By the fifth game of the season, propelled by a 4-0 win over Centereach, something clicked for the Blue Waves. The team closed out the season with a 5-2-1 record, a stark improvement from the beginning. While the Blue Waves finished 1/2 game shy of the playoffs, the late-season success offered new hope.
“Last year were finished stronger than we started,” said fourth-year coach Lamine Traore. “So we want to really start stronger this year.”
The Blue Waves lost a decent chunk of last year’s starting lineup, so they’ll be turning some of last year’s JV players to fill those spots. The biggest holes are on the defensive side, Traore said. Demar Mason, a center back last year, was instrumental in the defense. He has since graduated. The good news, however, is the Blue Waves return their goalkeeper to anchor the new defensive unit. Ryan DiResta returns in goal after a superb season last year.
“We’re going to count on him,” Traore said.
Other key returnees include Anthony Antunes and Phillip Barabanov, both of whom were central to the team’s offense last year.
Traore said the team has come into the season with a winning mentality.
“We got it back from last year,” he said.
The Blue Waves will play again in League III this year. One change is the addition of Half Hollow Hills West, which is replacing Smithtown East.
Traore said he’s still finalizing the roster and expects to have it done after the team’s first scrimmage Thursday.
The Blue Waves open the league season Sept. 12 at home against West Islip.
In his first season coaching the Bishop McGann-Mercy boys soccer team two years ago, Frank Baker inherited a program in shambles. The team was so overmatched, some games ended in double-digit scores.
“It’s like 75-0 in a football game,” Baker said.
To help the program grow, the Monarchs fielded just a junior varsity team last fall. It allowed the team to develop some skill and mature without the constant walloping that occurred the previous year.
Now, the Monarchs hope that experience will translate into more success this year with the return of a varsity team. The numbers still aren’t great; the team has 13 players.
“They learned a lot [last year],” Baker said. “I had an opportunity to teach a lot more skills and build up their self confidence. This year we should be more competitive.”
In goal the Monarchs will feature Louis Arresta, a senior who played on defense last year.
Bereket Watts, a native of Ethiopia, and Alex Frabizio will anchor the team’s offense.
The Monarchs will play in League VII this year, so the competition will be fierce. Mattituck, Southampton and Center Moriches are in the same league. Mattituck could be in the running for a state title this year.
Baker said he would have preferred the team to play on league lower, but Section XI wouldn’t move the team down. Leagues are determined by the school’s enrollment.
The Monarchs open the league season Sept. 11 at Center Moriches.