WOOD-RIDGE, NJ - Wood-Ridge boys soccer coach Alberico DePierro returns two of his three top scorers from last season’s 15-7 team, which advanced to the second round of the North 1, Group 1 NJSIAA tournament.
He does however, lose a lot of the experienced role players from that team as well as standout goalkeeper Phil Iacovelli. Iacovelli recorded 148 of the 157 Wood-Ridge goalies made in 2019.
While he is thrilled to be back on the field for the fall, like most other coaches, he realizes that the unique off-season did not exactly help his team transition into 2020.
“The way that the state set up the summer training period, with all the non-contact and recesses,“ DePierro stated. “It created a division between two groups. If you have a team that has so many returning players, you got away with being efficient with your six weeks of non-contact drills."
“I think we fall into the other category,” DePierro explained. “It was a huge disadvantage for me, with so many freshman, and so many new players coming up through the JV program, to go non-contact for six weeks."
“For me, what I realized is that, when pre-season started, it is like we started all over again,” DePierro said. “With contact, the game gets more realistic, the game get faster. So while it was still six great weeks of training, working on technical and fitness, so many of the new players and the young players were greatly disadvantaged by the fact that we were not allowed to practice with contact, and now we are seeing how long it may take them to catch up to speed.”
Goalkeeper: There is a battle raging for the starting position in net for the Blue Devils, as junior Kyle Ramos is being challenged by sophomore Antonio Testino. Testino has played his way into consideration for the starting position, and going into the last week of practice the position is not locked down. That doesn’t bother DePierro too much,
“They have both been playing well,“ DePierro stated. “Testino is really making it a battle for the spot. Having two goalies playing well is a good thing.”
Defense: The Blue Devils appear set on defense, led by captain Nick Turi. The senior will be joined by Philip Forte, who returns for his senior year a “completely changed player” according to DePierro. Nick Mychaluk, who provided depth at the position returns to claim one of the starting spots. The other spot will be held by newcomer Nick Parmi, a senior who has returned to soccer after taking a few years off from the game.
Midfield: Last year was a breakout year for Seydou Camara, and this year will be a huge challenge for the junior, as everyone will now be game-planning around him. As a sophomore, he scored 21 goals with 8 assists, and teams will be double and triple teaming him in 2020.
DePierro feels he has other talent around Camara that is going to step up to the challenge. Vice-captains Matt Notarasmo (2 goals, 1 assist) and Marcus Benevides (2 goals, 4 assists) provide experience and production in the midfield.
They will be joined by what DePierro referred to as "fresh blood," in freshmen Brian Harasak, Emmanual Seifunjo, and Daniel Castro. Sophomore Remy Ottevaere will also be in the mix.
DePierro likes the energy and enthusiasm the group brings to the team. It appears to be the Blue Devils deepest position group.
Forward: Senior Dillon Suelto is another player than Wood-Ridge opponents know they will focus on going into the season. Suelto scored 9 goals with 14 assists in 2019, and is being counted on by the coaches to lead the team up front.
“He is going to have a big challenge,“ DePierro stated. “Teams are going to focus on him Seydou to lead our offense this season.”
Suelto is joined up front by youngsters in freshman Sal Catanzarro and Marcello Avilla and sophomore Tommy Burniston II. All three are fighting out to see who starts early in the season.
Schedule: With NJIC re-setting the league into more geography based divisions in 2020, the Blue Devils will lose rival Wallington, while keeping Hasbrouck Heights, Becton, St, Mary and Weehawken in their division. With a five-team division, the Blue Devils open on the Bye Week, and will play their season opener Saturday, against Jersey City's McNair Academic. The Blue Devils will also play Paterson Charter twice in non-league play, as well Manchester Regional and Leonia.
|Saturday, Oct 3, 2020||2:00PM||McNair Academic||Pomponio Field in Moonachie|
|Monday, Oct 5, 2020||7:30PM||Weehawken||Wood-Ridge High School|
|Wednesday, Oct 7, 2020||4:00PM||Becton||Becton Regional High School|
|Monday, Oct 12, 2020||4:00PM||Saint Mary's||Saint Mary High School Tamblyn Field (FB & BB)|
|Wednesday, Oct 14, 2020||4:00PM||Hasbrouck Heights||Pomponio Field in Moonachie|
|Saturday, Oct 17, 2020||4:00PM||Paterson Charter||Paterson Charter|
|Wednesday, Oct 21, 2020||4:00PM||Weehawken||Weehawken Waterfront Park|
|Friday, Oct 23, 2020||4:00PM||Manchester Regional||Pomponio Field in Moonachie|
|Monday, Oct 26, 2020||4:00PM||Becton||Pomponio Field in Moonachie|
|Wednesday, Oct 28, 2020||7:30PM||Saint Mary's||Wood-Ridge High School|
|Saturday, Oct 31, 2020||9:30AM||Leonia||Pomponio or Steven's Fields, Redneck Rd. Moonachie, NJ|
|Monday, Nov 2, 2020||4:00PM||Hasbrouck Heights||Hasbrouck Heights High School|
|Thursday, Nov 5, 2020||7:30PM||Paterson Charter||Wood-Ridge High School|
|Monday, Nov 9, 2020||7:30PM||Saddle Brook||Wood-Ridge High School|
TAPinto Special Introductory Advertising Packages provide local businesses with social media marketing, content marketing, and brand awareness as well as the flexibility to market in neighboring towns. For more information, visit https://bit.ly/3gi5QJ7