MAHOPAC, N.Y. – The Mahopac High School boys soccer team struggled last year, and went into the sectional tournament with a losing record, headed for a first-round loss.

This year’s Indians team features a new head coach—2015 Kennedy Catholic grad Chris Mulholland, a Mahopac resident—who will coach a high school varsity team for the first time, and is raring to go. “I’m super excited to coach this team, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” Mulholland told Mahopac News. “I really enjoy coaching soccer, and this is just another step.”

The Indians will miss standout midfielder John Bernardi, who graduated from last year’s team. But Mahopac returns a solid core of talent in seniors Nick Biagini (F), Mario Bunjaj (M), Marco Chousa (M/D), and Joe Colatruglio (M/D).

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“Those guys will bring us leadership, they’ve been in the program for a while and they know everyone,” Mulholland said. “They’re all super-dedicated, and they’ll control the middle of the field for us, that’s the most important thing we can control.”

Also returning from last year’s team are senior goalie Nicolas D’Antona, junior defender Liam Kounios, senior midfielder John Duchitanga, and senior midfielder Vincent Rodriguez. Sophomore Colin Waring will join the team at midfield this season, as will senior midfielder Dimas Augustin-Mendez.

“Colin is really good on the ball, and mature as a player,” the coach said. “I’m excited to see Liam, he’s really strong defensively, and Dimas is a good attacker and decisive with the ball.”

Mulholland believes the team’s offense may be a little ahead of the defense. But mostly he’s hoping all of his players are coming into the short pre-season in top shape.

“I feel like our attack is a strong part of our team,” Mulholland said. “A big concern is our lack of practice and fitness. There hasn’t been much time to get things done. The teams who have kids who have been playing (during the summer) are going to have a much bigger advantage. For us, it’s a mixed bag—some of them have been playing, some have not.

“Our hope for the season is we’d like to see how competitive we can be,” the coach added. “We want to get as far in the sectional tournament as we can. The kids are super-excited about playing. We’re doing health checks, wearing masks… The masks are the toughest part. But we’re making the best of a tough situation, and I’m so proud of them for that.”

The Indians were scheduled to open their season Saturday vs. Carmel, but the Rams and Carmel schools have been shut down through at least Oct. 9 after it was discovered that an individual who tested positive had been at George Fischer Middle School while infectious (this is in addition to an individual at Carmel High School two days earlier). Mahopac is now set to open Oct. 13 at John Jay (East Fishkill) at 4:15 p.m., and plays at home the following Saturday (Oct. 17) at 11 a.m., hosting Arlington B.