WOOD-RIDGE, NJ - You might say that the Wood-Ridge High School Boys soccer team is going to experience some growing pains this year. That does not necessarily mean that the fourth year program is taking a step back.
Coach Alberico De Pierro’s team finished 9-9-1 a year ago, good enough for fourth place in what was supposed to be a rebuilding season, after losing nine seniors from the 2015 team. And while DePierro still has not settled on all his starters for 2017 a week before their season opener against Wallington, that is not necessarily a bad thing.
“We have more talent in the program now than we ever have,” the fifth year coach said. “Last year, I could tell you who my starters were a week before the season started because they were clearly the best kids. Now, we have competition for several spots.”
That competition comes from growth within the program.
“With 38 kids on the roster, this is the most we have ever had,” he continued. “This is the first time we have had enough people in the program for a full varsity and a full JV roster.”
And while he admits this is a second “rebuilding” year, DePierro also believes that a while they could struggle, there is potential to be one of the best teams in the division.’
“We are asking a lot of players to step up and take over starting jobs, “ DiPierro said. “Kids who played last year in either a reserve role or JV need to play a bigger role this season."
Goalkeeper: Second Team All NJIC Meadowland Division goalie Brian Argueta returns and will handle the bulk of the playing time. He will be backed up by sophomore Phillip Iocavelli. Argueta provides an experienced hand at the back-end, having seen time in each of the previous three seasons before taking over as a starter last year. .
“Brian is a real good goaltender.” DePierro. “We are confident are solid in net.”
Defender: DePierro can’t say enough positive things about senior captain, centerback Daniel Crygan. A second-team All-NJIC Meadowlands pick a year ago, Crygan had never played soccer before joining the program four years ago.
“To go from a kid who had never played a competitive game of soccer in his life to being one of the best players on the team shows the hard work and dedication he has put in.” DePierro said. "He is truly a great kid to have.”
He will be joined by senior vice-captain Sergio Agreda at a center back as the other established back in the middle.
Midfielder: Again, a pair of returning starters, and a pair of spots still up for grabs. Junior Keith Gudanowski was honorable mention All-NJIC a year ago and will hold down one spot. Sophomore Erick Zapata, who started as a freshman a year ago, has another spot. DiPierro still has two open spots, but one would think that senior Mike Schmidig, the other vice-captain, will see plenty of action.
There are plenty of candidates for the other spot, and DiPierro will have the opportunity to rotate players based on who is playing well and game situation.
Forward: Josh Laza, a second team selection All-NJIC as a sophomore returns to the lead the forward line. The other spot is up for grabs.
Most coaches would be panicked not knowing who will be filling all the open spots. DePierro is not. He believes that the open spots are there because the talent level has increased, and there are more players capable of being on the field. Younger players, including two freshmen in Dillan Suelto and Marcus Benavides, are challenging for playing time.
“We like to keep fresh legs on the field,” DiPierro said. “Most games, at least 17 or 18 guys are going to see some playing time. People will play their way into more playing time if they step up.”
Either way, the Blue Devils coach will find out quickly about his team, as Wood-Ridge hosts league powers Wallington and Hasbrouck Heights within the first week of the season.
|09-08-17||4:00PM||Wallington||Wood-Ridge - Redneck Road (Moonachie)|
|09-12-17||4:00PM||Saddle Brook||Saddle Brook|
|09-16-17||10:00AM||North Arlington||North Arlington|
|09-20-17||4:00PM||Paterson Charter||Wood-Ridge - Redneck Road (Moonachie)|
|09-25-17||4:00PM||Midland Park||Midland Park|
|09-26-17||4:00PM||Saint Mary's||Saint Mary's- Rutherford|
|10-06-17||7:00PM||Saddle Brook||Wood-Ridge HS|
|10-10-17||4:00PM||Hasbrouck Heights||Hasbrouck Heights|
|10-18-17||4:00PM||Paterson Charter||Paterson Charter|
|10-23-17||4:00PM||North Arlington||Wood-Ridge - Redneck Road (Moonachie)|
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