GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River’s Alex Michaelson tries to find dribbling room around Miller Place’s Matt Hoyland.
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.”
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Joseph Cusano of Shoreham-Wading River, flanked by Miller Place’s Jordan Hassel, left, and Brendan Murphy, challenging for a head ball.
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.