A year older and a year wiser, the Shoreham-Wading River High School boys soccer team could be on the verge of starting something big. READ
A year older and a year wiser, the Shoreham-Wading River High School boys soccer team could be on the verge of starting something big. READ
PANTHERS 3, WILDCATS 2
Andrew Moschetti gathered his players on the sideline to deliver one final message before the players departed following Tuesday afternoon’s game against Miller Place.
Moschetti, the coach of Shoreham-Wading River, offered the age-old rally cry: “It’s not over!” he said to the players. (more…)
FIRST SETTLERS 1, WILDCATS 0
It was a good game for goalkeepers, current and former goalkeepers alike.
In an entertaining non-league boys soccer match that saw one goalkeeper turn in an exceptional performance and another goalkeeper save a penalty kick, it was a former goalkeeper of all people, Kenji Fujita, who scored the game’s only goal.
Fujita, a senior forward, struck a brilliant first-timer off a driven centering ball from Shayne Johnson with 8 minutes 13 seconds left in the first half, and the goal stood for Southold’s 1-0 victory over visiting Shoreham-Wading River on Tuesday.
It’s striking how well Fujita moves as field player. Then again, he is hardly new to playing the field. Although he was Southold’s No. 1 goalkeeper last year, he saw some time in the field and scored 3 goals. He played as an outside midfielder for his travel team, the Center Moriches Huskies, last spring, and also ran for Southold in a summer league.
In the meantime, Southold has a new first-string goalkeeper, John Charles Funke. The aggressive junior was outstanding in the Southold goal, making 8 saves for his first career shutout.
“He’s crazy,” Fujita said. “He has no concern for his body. He goes out there every day, just a hundred percent.”
When Shoreham-Wading River turned up the pressure later in the second half, Funke came up big, making a reflex kick save on Zachary McAuley and then fisting away Jack DelDuca’s follow-up shot. Funke was also aided in the second half by a goal-line clearance from Brian Hallock.
“He made some great, great saves,” said Southold coach Andrew Sadowski.
Southold (2-0) nearly tacked on a second goal when Shoreham-Wading River goalkeeper Adam Piotrowski (8 saves) was judged to have fouled Will Richter. But the 6-foot-2 Piotrowski kept his side in the game by springing to his left and knocking aside Richter’s penalty kick 7:25 into the second half.
Southold’s Drew Sacher nearly tacked on an insurance goal late in the contest. After expertly controlling the ball with his right foot, Sacher sliced forward and directed a shot that crashed off the crossbar.
After a rather flat first hour, Shoreham-Wading River (0-2), as if reacting to a belated wake-up call, picked up its play dramatically over the final 20 minutes but wasn’t rewarded with an equalizer.
“We didn’t start playing until the last 20 minutes,” Shoreham-Wading River coach Andrew Moschetti said. “The last 20 minutes, all of a sudden, it’s a different team on the field.”
Referring to the close scoring chances his team had, Piotrowski said, “Sometimes I wish I could just go down there and do something.”
Having played their season opener just the day before — a 3-2 loss to Kings Park despite 2 goals from Doug DeMaio — the Wildcats rested three banged up starters on Tuesday: Anthony Cusano, Daniel Mahoney and Kyle Pendergast.
Southold won its season opener, 3-2, over Hampton Bays on Saturday, with its goals coming from Hallock, Sacher and Richter. Tuesday’s game was the continuation of a good start to the season for the First Settlers, although they did get a scare when Fujita got hurt with 27:42 remaining. He put little pressure on his right foot as he was helped off the field, and it didn’t look good. Nine minutes later, however, he re-entered the game. Fujita said he believed it was a cramping issue, and he was determined to get back on the field as soon as he could.
“I don’t come here to just sit,” he said. “I come out here to play hard every day.”
Fujita’s work ethic has become his trademark. Sadowski said it is no surprise why Fujita has been doing well in his second soccer life as a field player.
“Obviously, the big reason why he’s playing so well is because of what he does on the training grounds,” Sadowski said. “If you don’t train hard and you’re not open to being a better player, you won’t be a better player. He is everything that I could possibly ask. He is an excellent teammate. He is an extremely hard worker, and his skill continues to improve.”
Fujita said he enjoys playing forward, but he seemed stuck when asked what position he prefers to play.
“There are things that I miss about goalie,” he said. “I wish I could do both, but that’s not really possible.”
Effort, hustle, work rate.
Those words are foremost on the minds of players on the Shoreham-Wading River boys soccer team, and for good reason. The Wildcats believe that for all the skill and talent they had last year, they were lacking in the effort department.
So now the Wildcats repeat phrases like, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard,” and “Will beats skill.”
Anthony Cusano, a senior center midfielder, said, “There’s a saying: ‘If you have talent, it doesn’t matter because you still have to work hard,’ and last year we didn’t do the work hard.”
Shoreham-Wading River lost in the first round of the 2012 school season playoffs to Eastport/South Manor in overtime, leaving the Wildcats wondering how far they might have gone had they played to their full potential.
“We had a ton of skill players … but [they] were lazy guys,” coach Andrew Moschetti said. “It’s going to different this year.”
A lot of things are different. For one thing, Shoreham-Wading River graduated 11 of its 21 players, including nine starters. That means that positions are up for grabs, and young players are pushing themselves to show that they belong. It’s a refreshing sight for Moschetti to behold.
“The younger guys coming in aren’t the most skilled guys, but they work their butt off every time they’re on the field,” he said. “It’s nice to see.”
In the meantime, Moschetti has a lot of player evaluating to do as the Wildcats make productive use of their summer by playing in the Town of Brookhaven Summer League. Despite outshooting Miller Place by 13-6 on Monday evening, Shoreham-Wading River dropped a 2-0 loss because of a pair of second-half goals by Chris Maschella at Heritage Park in Mount Sinai. The result left both teams with 3-3-1 records.
But the loss was not the result of a lack of effort on Shoreham’s part.
Shoreham-Wading River was a bit unfortunate not to have put in a couple of goals in the first half. Its best attempt was a flick by Peter Stirpe that goalkeeper Chris Cummings did well to tip off the crossbar for one of his four saves.
But after Shoreham-Wading River goalkeeper Adam Pietrowski stretched to make a fine save on Maschella early in the second half, Maschella eventually found the net. His first goal came from a superb individual effort in which he held off a defender before nudging the ball past Pietrowski. Later, while moving to the right with a defender on his heels, Maschella sent his shot just inside the far left goalpost.
Not for Shoreham-Wading River, though.
Michael McDonnell, a senior sweeper, and Cusano are Shoreham-Wading River’s only two returning seniors. McDonnell, the team’s longest-serving player, will enter his fourth varsity season in the fall. Cusano is in his third year with the team after having played for the St. Anthony’s freshman team.
In that playoff loss to Eastport/South Manor, Cusano ripped cartilage in his knee. His first game this summer was his first since the injury.
“He’s done great with the physical therapy and the rehab,” said Moschetti.
Kevin Brady, a senior captain and center midfielder, tore an anterior cruciate ligament at the end of the school year. He had surgery a week ago, and will be out for six to eight months. Nonetheless, he still attends summer league games to support his teammates.
Moschetti said the summer league is a good experience for his younger players. He said, “For a lot of the younger kids, it’s been good for them to play against other varsity competition.”
Their efforts, he said, cannot be questioned.
Lamine Traore knows a thing or two about goals, having scored his share of them when he played for the Dowling College men’s soccer team. He knows that goals are the lifeblood of a soccer team. A team needs them to win and to thrive.
But Traore also knows that goals don’t come easily. The creativity that produces goals is often the final piece of the puzzle for a developing team.
Traore, 29, came to America to accept a full soccer scholarship from Dowling in 2006, the same year Dowling won the Division II national championship. Traore finished his four-year career at Dowling with 39 goals and 11 assists in 61 games played, and is ranked third on the school’s all-time goal-scoring list. He was the top Division II goal scorer in the country with 26 in 2008, the same year he led the Golden Lions to the national final and was named to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America third team.
And now, Traore brings his soccer knowledge and hunger for goals to the Riverhead Blue Waves (5-7 last season) as the team’s new coach. He succeeds A. J. Kretschmer, who went 10-16 in his two years in charge.
Riverhead has never reached the playoffs, and Traore is under no delusion. He appreciates the magnitude of the work cut out for him.
“It’s not an easy job,” he said after a hard practice last week. “If I said it was an easy job, I’d be lying. It’s not, but you know, soccer has always been in my life.”
It was soccer that enticed Traore to make the courageous decision to leave his west African homeland, Mali, as well as his family and, with a little knowledge of English, pursue a future in the United States, where he didn’t know anyone.
What Traore did know, though, was soccer.
“Since I was little, my coach used to tell me that soccer is universal,” he said. “Wherever you go, if you speak the soccer language, you’ll get along.”
Now Traore has undertaken his first coaching job. A former Dowling teammate of his who was also an all-American, Moussa Keita, is Riverhead’s new junior varsity coach.
Traore is trying to instill the understanding in his players that simplicity is soccer’s Holy Grail. The simpler a player plays, the better. “The best player is the one who plays the most simplest way,” he said.
The Blue Waves have two accomplished all-league players they can rely on in senior center midfielder Jordan Fulcoly and junior defender Diego Guazhambo. They head a cast of 10 returning players that also includes goalkeepers Joe Inzalaco and Selvin Morales, defenders Kevin Antunes, Abner Ortiz and Josue Cruz, midfielder Andrew Ruggiero and forwards Devrim Kucuk and Nabio Rangel.
Also joining the team are: defenders Jorge Solorzano, Sergio Gonzalez, Mike Serafico, Erick Pulla and Kevin Guazhambo, midfielders Anthony Flores, Gilberto Rosas and Carlos Guzman, and forwards Pablo Guazhambo, Michael Atkins, Shakeel Khan, Joseph Seymore, Demar Mason, Gabriel Guazhambo and Christian Garcia.
“If we get together and play as a team, we will go somewhere, we will go far,” said Traore.
As a player or coach, seeing a goal scored remains a joy for Traore.
“Scoring makes me really happy, even if I’m on the sideline,” he said. “I see a kid scoring, it just makes me happy. I just love to see the ball in the net.”
And one more thing about goals. According to Traore, there is no such thing as an ugly goal.
“No,” he said, “all goals are beautiful. As long as it crosses the line, it’s a goal, and I don’t mind. Just put it in.”
When it comes to soccer, age is measured differently, as in dog years. Class (senior, junior, sophomore, etc.) really takes a back seat to “soccer years.” A young player can be more experienced than an older one, depending on his “soccer years.”
And so, don’t be misled by looking at the young ages of the Bishop McGann-Mercy players. The Monarchs (2-14) play beyond their years. Louis Manoussos calls it the most talented group he has had in his three years as the team’s coach.
“When opposing coaches see the age on the roster, they’re going to say: ‘Oh my God. Am I playing a JV team here?’ ” he said. “But they’re going to see the talent.”
The Monarchs will depend on their three captains — Roger Young, a senior goalkeeper, Damian Duda, a junior striker/attacking midfielder, and Patrick Derenze, a junior striker.
Manoussos holds Young in high regard. “Our team will go as far as Roger takes the team,” the coach said. “In my opinion, he’s one of the better keepers in the county.”
Bereket Watts, a freshman in his third varsity year, is an all-conference center midfielder. Brian Willett, a junior right back, and Michael Shelton, a freshman stopper/sweeper, were both starters last year who should help fortify the defense.
Connor Galvin, the team’s only other senior besides Young, is the starting left back.
Among the new additions are a pair of eighth-graders, right midfielder Alex Fabrizio and central defender Joe Leonardi. The rest of the underclassmen are forward Louis Arresta, defender Dominic Gallo, midfielder Riley Joinnides, midfielder Massamino Luigini, right midfielder Wesley McBerne and left midfielder Collin Cuccia.
“There’s something about these kids,” said Manoussos, who is entering his 28th season as a head coach. “We put them through hell, literally hell [in preseason training]. They all came back with a smile on their face. They’re striving toward that respect factor. They want to get respect on the field.”
After losing a huge chunk of seniors from last year’s team, the Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats will turn to a new group of young players, many of whom have grown up playing soccer together.
“There’s a lot of kids who played club ball, grew up all playing since they were 5 years old together,” Shoreham Coach Andrew Moschetti said. “They know where they are on the field without having to even look.”
The Wildcats reached the playoffs in Class A last year as the No. 7 seed and lost to Elwood/John Glenn. They opened the season with a pair of non-league games, winning by 5-1 Saturday against Eastport-South Manor and falling, 5-2, at Kings Park on Monday.
Leading the team this year are senior captains Toni Domingues and Nick Araujo. Domingues plays in the midfield and Araujo is a defender.
Both players already have a goal on the season.
Charles DeMaio scored a pair of goals in the Wildcats’ win against Eastport. Greg Canellys scored a goal in both games so far as well.
Senior Joe Cahill, a newcomer to the varsity level, has started in goal for the Wildcats. Short on goalies going into the summer, the Wildcats got Cahill, a hockey goalie, to come out for the team. Moschetti said Cahill continually improved during the summer from one game to the next.
While the Wildcats have consistently made the playoffs, they’ve struggled getting past the first round. Moschetti said that’s the goal coming into this season, to advance beyond the first round. The team will face plenty of strong competition in League VI playing against Glenn, East Hampton and Westhampton Beach.
“Our senior captains have shown great leadership throughout the preseason and we are excited for league play to start,” Moschetti said.
Shoreham opens on the road Monday where its season ended last year — at John Glenn.
Joe Werkmeister contributed to this article.