Margaretville soccer has plenty of manpower
By John Bernhardt
A roster spilling over with 26 players, including 18 upperclassmen has increased the focus and intensity of boy’s preseason soccer practice at Margaretville this fall.
“We’ve had ultra competitive practices with everyone trying to win playing minutes, trying to win a position spot,” said coach Jeremy Marks. “There’s not a lot I have to do to motivate these guys.”
The Blue Devils are coming off a banner season (15-1-3), having won the Delaware League’s Upper Division title, were overall league co-champs, and reached the semifinals of the Section IV playoffs. “Our practices have been crisp, sharp, competitive with a great tempo,” noted Marks. “We have a ton of experience and the guys understand the work they do now will pay off somewhere down the road.”
It’s not hard to appreciate Marks’ upbeat outlook. The Blue Devil’s roster includes a composite 30 years of varsity playing experience; 10 seniors, five of whom are playing varsity soccer for the fourth year, eight juniors, two playing at the varsity level for the third time, every major scorer from the 2012 championship team, the entire midfield from the 2012 championship team, and two 2012 Daily Star first team soccer all-stars.
The bulk of Margaretville’s graduation loses came on the defensive end of the field, but Marks is confident roster depth will allow him to shuffle the cards and build a solid defense. The big position question comes in the goal where the Blue Devils need to find a replacement for three-year starting tender Mitch Hull. Two juniors, Marvin Morales and Eric Mathiesen, and a sophomore, Dillon VanKeuren are battling for the goalie’s slot.
James Warner, a center back, returns for a fourth season and will be the quarterback of the newly constructed defense. Fast and smart, Warner reads the field well. Marks will rely on Warner’s good leadership skills to help accelerate his team’s defensive progress.
Victor Mendoza, a player found manning the center of the field, is also in his fourth season. One of the squad’s best ball winners, Mendoza is strong and physical. “Whether its from the middle or from the back of the field, expect Victor to be in the thick of the action,” noted Marks.
Also back for their fourth years are three offensive threats. Kyle Short, a Daily Star first team all-star who scored 20 plus goals and dished out double-digit assists last season. Short is fast and aggressive with good foot skills, and Marks is impressed with the strides Short is making as a field leader so far this fall.
Sam Gill and Colby Russo are interchangeable parts in the offense. Both versatile seniors played in the middle field but can run overlaps to the forward line. Gill and Russo are very skilled with the ball and run well and can score.
Versatile and athletic, third-year senior Dillon Shaffer is good in the air and can play anywhere on the field. Also back for his third varsity season, senior Michael Conroy is noted for his scrappy, hustling playing style and provides depth in the midfield or forward lines.
A rugged returning defender, senior Brandon Bush is strong and physical as a defensive back. Two seniors, Rudy and David Vazquez, are trying organized soccer for the first time. Both play hard and are active, Marks says it’s too early to determine their roles.
Juniors Matt VanValkenburg and Cooper Reither return for their third varsity campaigns. A Daily Star first team all-star, VanValkenburg was a sharpshooter on the forward line last year scoring more than goals. The junior striker has added several inches height and will be more difficult to push off the ball this fall. VanValkenburg can score with either foot and has a nose for the goal. An offensive catalyst, Reither is a rugged midfielder who sees the field well and can distribute.
Back for their second season, a junior trio of Yair Sanhez, Ben Fairbairn, and Alex Serdiouk will bolster the defense. Sanchez’s tackling and ball-winning skills made him a steady contributor last season and Fairbairn and Serdiouk should see significant minutes on the defensive end of the field.
Another second year player, Ethan Bush provides added roster depth and is working hard.
Sophomores Diego Caamano and Rodolfo Leal return to bolster the attack. Both are expected to use last year’s experience to propel them into larger roles this season.
Four freshman; Harrison Haynes, Danny Conroy, Riley Ancona, and Ian Todd move up from a very successful modified team. Marks is impressed with his new sophomore’s understanding of the increased demands of the varsity game and pleased with their transition from modified.
Freshman Victor Sarabia rounds out the roster. Marks explains that Sarabia has played a ton of soccer, is good with both feet, and can play a lot of different positions on the field.
Marks is looking for his team to build on what they accomplished last season and to establish a fast playing tempo that forces opponents to play at the Blue Devils’ pace. He expects his team to be aggressive and play to their strengths.
Marks believes that the Delleague will be very competitive and knows everyone will be shooting for his Blue Devils.
“We need to stay focused on the present and not get caught looking ahead,” emphasized the Margaretville coach.