CHATHAM, NJ - Mark Maka will count on speed and experience in his second season as head coach when his Chatham High boys soccer team opens against Parsippany Hills on Sept. 11.
"We had a number of very good seniors who graduated, but a good portion of our team last year included a lot of juniors and sophomores who played a lot of minutes last year," said Maka of the team that was 9-9-2 last fall..
Senior P.J. DiBenedetto, a second-year captain, has been a starter on varsity since his sophomore year. He'll play in the middle of the defense with another senior captain, Andy Milone.
David Gill, a senior captain, and junior captain Brian Graham return after leading the team in scoring a year ago. Gill and Graham are known for their speed and can cause problems for defenses from their opposite wing positions. Jared Wood, a junior, provides a target up front. He was the third-leading scorer behind Gill and Graham.
Senior Michael Barber provides more experience for Chatham in the middle, either as a defender or midfielder. Barber scored a goal in a recent scrimmage against Cliffside Park.
"We want to play a possession game," Maka said. "The purpose of a possession game is to open up the other team's defense. We want to be solid defensively and patient in our buildup from the back."
The outside backs include senior Pat Fuller and junior Greg Mah. Senior goalkeeper Dylan Mulcahy is battling 6-6 sophomore keeper Henry Stusnick. Senior Brian Fox will play in the defense or in the midfield.
Adding to the depth is senior Josh Blake, who could play up front, in the midfield or in the back. Junior Graham Delaney, who is returning from injury, played a lot of minutes as a center midfielder last season and could have an impact once he's in game condition.