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Getting Off On A Good Foot

Varsity soccer preview –

Teams poised for success

Who can believe that the school year is upon us and summer is over? The athletes that started training two weeks ago might be the first to answer but not because they couldn’t wait for summer to end but because they are looking forward to their fall seasons on the soccer field.

Tryouts began in earnest on Monday morning, Aug. 26 for both squads as they look to build upon last season’s successes. The early days of tryouts are focused on returning the teams to some sense of conditioning and re-familiarizing the players with the ball. As teams moved forward in the week all four coaches were excited for the upcoming season.

For Coach Mike Heedles and the girls it will be a matter of reloading some of the scoring power and defense supplied by last year’s graduating class. He does have many key returning players and will have a strong core of seniors contributing to the success of the team. His top priority will be to replace keeper Kelsey Tierney, but also to establish a solid back line that will limit the chances of their opponents.

While boys coach Paul Cutter will be looking to bring his team back to the playoffs in his second season as head coach after replacing long time coach Carlo Mazarese. Last season the boy’s team transitioned to a more control oriented game and Cutter would like to see his boys develop that game further. “When you possess the ball, you’re in control and can start to dictate the speed of the game. Our boys are very athletic but also have the skill to get us to the next level.”

He’ll focus the team on playing an up tempo offense paired with a skilled defense in the hopes of making an extended run in the playoffs.

Cutter and assistant coach Tom Skrivanek like what they see in the early days of camp--“we have a good blend of youth and veteran leadership, and I can see them already forming a strong team bond. Tom and I are stressing the importance of the team, all working together without any real dominating individual.”

The Lady Trojans will be led by two players that still link Garden City to the 2010 State Championship, senior captain Haley O’Hanlon and Katherine Malhame, both of whom were freshmen on that team. These two will also bring the championship feel to the pitch from the lacrosse field where both have also experienced championships since freshman year.

The girls team opened up their season with a scrimmage against Kellenberg on Wednesday, Sept. 4 and will follow that up with nine more matches later in the month, four at home. The girls have been putting in a solid effort throughout August with captain’s practices, summer league games and camps and are looking forward to competing for a County Championship once again. Last season the girls came up just short as the only blemishes on their record were two losses to State Champion South Side.

Heedles is quick to say that, “The girls we’re getting at tryouts are now coming to us with more skill than ever before. You can tell they play soccer at a high level, and that translates well for us.” And McCauley adds,“It’s also nice to get girls who have won championships in other sports, like O’Hanlon, Malhame, Carpentier and Murphy.”And they both agree,“we have the makings of a really good year.”

So once again the key games on the schedule will be against perennial powerhouse South Side. The Trojans battle the Cyclones twice in October, the first meeting at Skelos field and the second one on Monday, Oct. 21 at home to wrap up the regular season. But Heedles will be quick to remind his team that teams like Plainedge, Wantagh and Clarke will come out strong and look to challenge for the title.

The boys team began play with pre-season matches against Mineola and Mepham on Wednesday, Sept. 4 and Saturday, Sept. 7 respectively. They will face their top competition during the month of September with tough games against South Side, New Hyde Park and Carey, while they close the season out with Westbury and perennial power Jericho in mid-October.  

For the Trojans, Cutter will be depending on the leadership of senior midfielders Jack Gillan and Greg Vouzianis, defender Johnny Morris and keeper Robert Wotczak to rally the team and keep them focused on their goal of not only getting to the playoffs, but making a run at a championship.