MAHOPAC, N.Y.— The Mahopac varsity boys soccer team is hoping that shifting to a more aggressive style of offense will help them dash past the first round of sectionals this season.
“We have primarily been more of a defensive team,” fourth-year Mahopac coach Jim Gencarelli said. “But this year we are going to try and be more offensive minded. We want to maintain possession but also be able to put pressure on opposing team’s defenses with our attack. We are trying to emphasize possession and moving the ball.”
Last season’s final result was nearly identical to the one of the year before for Mahopac. The Indians finished at around .500 and fell by one goal to the second-seeded Port Chester Rams in both seasons.
“It’s special this year because there’s a whole different vibe about the team,” said senior midfielder Kyle Fergie, a team captain. “We feel like more of a family together and that we can now go a lot farther.”
Three other Indians have been named captains this year in senior midfielders George Weiss, Davian Robinson, and senior defenseman Evan Hands. Returning midfielders/forwards in senior Nick Carmona, junior Max Lichtman and junior Nick Estrada are expected to have increased responsibility in 2016.
“We have a new formation on offense,” Weiss said. “There is a lot of speed and talent this year up top. We have the midfielders to switch the field this year.”
Junior midfielder Augie Djerdjaj, a Kennedy Catholic transfer, will also be looked upon to produce. Sophomore forward Nick DeCola plans to make an immediate impact after playing JV last year.
“We have a lot more talented first-year players this year that are more creative on the ball,” Fergie said. “So when we hold it more we will be able to pass out easier.”
Juniors Tommy Ferreira and first-year varsity player Johnny Burke will start alongside Hands on defense to safeguard returning senior goalie Jeremy Carroll. Senior Harry O’Shea will be the backup goalie.
“We’re just trying to keep it lockdown and possess the ball,” Hands said. “We’ve definitely got a lot more youth and speed to be creative and maintain the ball.”
Mahopac will play its usual slate of difficult league opponents in Roy. C. Ketcham, Carmel, Arlington and John Jay-East Fishkill. But they will also have meetings with powerhouse teams in Fox Lane and Horace Greeley. However, this still may be the year that the Indians flip the script.
“We have a great group of 23 kids on the roster,” Gencarelli said. “They are really close, a great group that works hard. We’re definitely an above .500 team on paper. Our team goal is to win the section but we try to keep it one game at a time. I think we are going to take some teams by surprise.”
The Indians kicked off the season against the Somers Tuskers in the Yorktown tournament on Wednesday afternoon in the first round of a four-team tournament. The consolation game is slated for 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10 with the championship game at 6 p.m.
“Oh, we definitely want to go deep in the playoffs this year,” Weiss said. “We feel a lot closer this year and we can win this for us.”