MCS boys, Roxbury clubs gear up for soccer

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By John Bernhardt
Last August at this time, the Margaretville boys’ soccer team was in freefall. Hurricane Irene had destroyed the Blue Devils’ home field. When the high school players assisted the flood cleanup, the soccer team went nearly two weeks without practice. After a soccer restart, practices and games were all played on the road. The end result; Margaretville dropped the first four games they played and a once promising season was nearly washed away.

Fast forward to late August, 2012. Blue Devil Coach Jeremy Marks reports his team is still experiencing aftershocks from Irene, but this time in a positive light. “With our guys losing so much practice time to the flood last year, and our horrible start, the guys attitudes about practice have changed,” Marks explained. “Last year taught us game success is connected with practice. This preseason our guys are very serious about what needs to be done and eager to do it.”

Marks’ 2011 squad eventually escaped the grip of Irene, rebounding to make a brilliant run that took them all the way to the Section IV championship game. The Blue Devils (13-6-1) dropped that contest, 3-0, further hardening a resolve to make up for lost time this fall.

One challenge the Blue Devils will face is replacing the point production lost with the graduation of Ian Williams, Iso Dedric, and Peter Cella, the top offensive threats last season. Ironically, Marks first order of business filling that void comes from his defense.

In Mitch Hull and Sean Gauntt, Marks has a solid pair of defensive leaders, the anchors of a stingy defensive unit the Margaretville coach hopes will keep opponent’s off the scoreboard. “Mitch and Sean are back for their fourth year. They’re the only guys who played on our last sectional championship team. They understand what it takes to compete at a championship level,” said Marks. “They are the eyes and ears of our defense, the nerve center. They need to be vocal leaders, reading the play, communicating and directing teammates to positions where they can succeed.”

Hull and Gauntt are three-year starters, Hull tending the Margaretville goal and Gauntt the sweeper. James Warner, a fast, aggressive, hard-nosed junior returns as stopper adding additional power in the center of the defensive scheme.

Marks is impressed by the preseason play of another senior defender, Blake Searle. Searle, a strong footed outside fullback, came to camp fit and ready to roll.

Two sophomores, Alex Serdiouk and Yair Sanchez, have also impressed. Both are fearless, play through the ball, and have good soccer instincts. And, both bring a defense first mentality to the field.

Juniors Brandon Bush and Doug Brady add depth to the defensive side of the field. Bush is an aggressive competitor with some experience and Brady is playing varsity soccer for the first time.
With a solid defense in place, Mark’s is looking for versatile, athletic interchangeable parts on the forward and midfield lines. In junior Kyle Short, a third year starter, Marks has a smart, front-line striker who can create scoring opportunities and find the nets. Back for his second year, sophomore Matt VanValkenburg is a heady striker, skilled with both feet, who can play the ball out of the air.
Senior Ryan Sanford, has a tall frame he uses to pluck volleys out of the air near the goal. Sanford and Junior Michael Conroy, who Marks credits with a solid preseason effort, should see time on the forward line.

A talented core of midfielders is the backbone of the Blue Devil formation. Senior Caleb Todd is a versatile player capable of playing on any line. Expect to see Todd spend some time at outside mid. As a center mid, junior Victor Mendoza is strong, plays the ball well in the air, can win a 50/50 ball, and ignites scoring drives with passes from the middle of the field. Marks sometimes uses Mendoza to match up against the opponent’s best offensive threat.

A pair of juniors, Sam Gil and Colby Russo, add speed and firepower from the midfield. A dynamic offensive playmaker, Gil is very skilled and good with the ball on his feet. Russo is blazing fast and on the go the entire contest.

Cooper Reither made his presence felt last season as a first year freshman midfielder. Focused and tough, Reither can win a ball and distribute it to the perfect spot where the pass receiver can make something happen. Junior Dillon Shaffer is playing the game for the first time ever and learning fast in the midfield.

Three sophomores are playing varsity soccer for the first time. Marvin Morales is working as a back-up keeper, Ethan Bush is working hard and adjusting to a new sport, and Ben Fairbairn is showing all-around versatility.

Marks is impressed with the skill set of a trio of freshman; Diego Coamano, Jovani Ramirez, and Rodolfo Leal. When and how they contribute depends on how quickly they adapt to the speed and physicality of the varsity game.

Marks predicts a wide-open Delaware League this fall. Last year his Blue Devils snapped a five-year run as Upper Division champions, and he senses his guys are eager to take the title back as the first stepping stone of a successful campaign.

Roxbury
Depth and experience are valued commodities that should place Roxbury (10-7 last season) front and center in the boys’ Delaware League soccer chase this fall. With a roster 22 strong and key returning players at several positions, veteran Roxbury coach Tom Faraci is eager to see how things unfold.

“We’ve got a great group of kids who are working real hard,” praised Faraci. Like every coach in every season, Faraci grapples with unanswered questions as he speculates about his team. His biggest query – how will his team replace the goal production of last season’s two high scoring seniors, Kyle Cariavino and Danny Menne?

Part of the answer will have to come from senior, Garrett Hinkley. Fast with great field awareness, Hinkley can run forever. Hinkley will see time on the forward and midfield lines, with Faraci looking for increased offensive production from his senior.

Another senior and another Hinkley, Spencer Hinkley showed flashes of explosive offensive play last fall. Fast and fit, Hinkley is having a strong preseason and will be a consistent scoring threat.
Faraci expects two juniors, third-year striker Kris Walcutt and Joe McAfee to add some zip to the offense. Walcutt’s speed and good footwork are huge offensive assets. “I’m hoping Kris can help fill the void Danny and Kyle left, and he tucks some goals away,” said Faraci. The Roxbury coach called McAfee Mr. Hustle, is impressed with the way McAfee mixes it up and attends to the little things in the game, and predicts the junior will make some noise on the forward and midfield lines.

Two returning sophomores, Matt Faraci and Chris Clark, provide some added firepower up front or from the midfield. “Chris knocked down a couple of goals as a freshman and the time these guys saw last season should pay dividends this fall,” noted the Roxbury coach.

A strong midfield that controls the center of the field can boost offensive production. To bolster that critical piece of real estate, Faraci has moved 4th year senior Derek Cowan out of the goal to the midfield. “Derek did a solid job last season tending the nets, but we need him to help control the midfield,” explained Faraci. Derek is decent in the air and will help distribute from that part of the field.”

Junior Tristan Mulder will see changes, too. A defender last year, Mulder is moving forward one line this fall. “Tristan is fit, runs well, has great endurance and is aggressive,” adds Faraci. Based on how things evolve, another junior defender, Josh Riley, could split time between the defensive line and the midfield.

Sophomore William Rendler will replace Cowan in the goal. Rendler, tall and with a good set of hands, served as the back-up last season, and Faraci is confident he’s ready to meet the challenge in front of the nets this fall.

Rendler will get plenty of seasoned defensive help. Smart, mature, and solid, senior Nick Hamil will be a presence on the defensive side of the field and could be the sweeper. Dakota Coronia, another senior, returns for his fourth season. Strong and aggressive with a nose for the ball, Coronia will play a huge defensive role as either the stopper or sweeper.

Senior, Brandon Beauvis, a sometimes starter last year, adds speed and more experience to the defensive mix. Junior Isaac Cline is another defensive piece. Cline brings power and aggressiveness to the horde of defenders and could see time at sweeper.

Four sophomores are playing varsity soccer for the first time. Danny Ballard and Josh Paes add depth in the midfield and James Manon and Kyle Faraci bolster the defensive line.

Four freshmen round out the roster. Jacob Davis shows great potential training in the goal, Zack Caronia and Tyler Phillips are working out in the midfield, and Beau O’Donnell has a bright future as a defenseman, perhaps, someday becoming the sweeper.

Team chemistry has been the early focus of the preseason with Faraci working hard to assure his guys work well together as a unit. Faraci feels it should be a wide-open Delaware League chase this fall and believes his squad has enough talent to compete most nights. The Roxbury mentor is concerned about his team’s offensive production, but the Rockets are working hard figuring that out.

Roxbury opens their 2012 season tonight facing Gilboa at 6:00 p.m. in the opening round of Stamford’s Mayor’s Cup. Consolation and championship play takes place on Saturday.

RCS girls
It’s been one step forward each fall for the Roxbury girls’ soccer team after Lisa Faraci took over the program five seasons ago. Last fall the Lady Rockets cracked the .500 mark and reached the Section IV playoffs. With key starters returning at most positions, the Rockets are positioned to continue their ascent toward the top of the Delaware League.

Depth and experience are not an issue for Roxbury. Three seniors return for their fourth varsity season providing Faraci on the field leadership and knowhow. Bailey O’Donnell is a striker who logged a solid bounce-back season last fall after injuring her knee in her sophomore year. O’Donnell is stronger and more confident as she starts her senior year, and Faraci is expecting big things from her on the forward line.

Christina Chiarappa, a hard-nosed midfielder last season, will be asked to bring energy and aggressiveness to bolster the defense. Chiarappa understands the game and will add speed and assertive decision making to the defense.

At center midfield, Kennedy Faraci has a versatile skill set that allows her to transition from offense to defense as the situation dictates. A nonstop work ethic, strong endurance and great field vision help Faraci control the tempo of the game.

The fourth senior, Miranda Cross, returns for her third varsity year. Cross, a striker, adds depth and charisma to the forward line.

Faraci will get some help in midfield from junior Kaelie VanLoan. VanLoan loves the sport and leaves everything on the field every day. Positive and knowledgeable, VanLoan is a midfield presence.

Two juniors Chloe O’Shaughnessy and Erin Hubbell should help generate some offense. Both split time between the midfield and forward line last fall with O’Shaughnessy chalking up some key goals.

Junior Taylor Allison, a midfielder last season, is eager to move to the defensive end of the field this year. Allison and another junior pair, Lizzy Davis and Gina Candelaria,, should be anchors for the defense. Davis was a starter on the defensive end last fall before a knee injury ended her season.

Lisa Boyke, another junior, is the returning goalie. “Lisa stepped up big time for us last year,” marveled Faraci. “She has those ‘goalie guts’ and made some big plays for us in the nets.”
Faraci is understandably excited about the prospects of sophomore Shannon Sprague. Sprague stepped up as a freshman to fill the slot vacated when Davis was lost to injury and found a home on the defensive side of the field. This season, Faraci will ask the sophomore to tackle another tough assignment at sweeper filling the shoes of Brittany Keator who graduated last spring.

Sophomore Alyce MacIntosh saw valuable minutes in the midfield last season and should see more time there this year. Three sophomores move up from modified. Lacey Stewart and Megan Cronk are working upfront and in the midfield. Amy Burrows is training as the backup goalie.
Two freshmen should be a part of a promising Roxbury soccer future. Stacey Sprague brings a versatile skill set she’s using to try various positions on the field. Fast and athletic, Jade Meehan could see some time playing defense.

Faraci is encouraged with the attitude of her Rockets. The girls started preseason in good shape and ready to play. “We have some speed and experience on every line,” said Faraci. “We lost a group of hard-nosed defenders so early success might depend on how fast the defense gels.”

The Rockets’ defense will be tested early, squaring off against the Delaware League’s perennial Upper Division champion Davenport at 6 p.m. on Thursday in Stamford’s Mayor’s Cup. Roxbury completes Cup play facing South Kortright on Saturday at 2 p.m. Then it’s Davenport again, when Roxbury goes on the road for their league opener next Thursday.