RANDOLPH, NJ- After struggling through a 2018 season that was their most difficult one in recent memory, the Randolph Boys Soccer team is primed to reverse direction and get back to winning ways in 2019. The silver lining to last years struggle however, was that the smaller group of seniors combined with some injury woes provided the opportunity for varsity experience to be gained by underclassmen.
The Rams hope that pays dividends as they prepare to kick off the 2019 season.
“We have a lot of returning juniors from last year's team, in addition to several new sophomores,” said defenseman and team captain Kyle Silverstein. “I think a strength we have compared to last year's team is our chemistry. We all work very well together and all have the same mindset on how we want to play.”
That chemistry will be critically important at the backbone of the team – the defensive zone when protecting their own net. It will be helpful that the defense has several returning starters; joining Silverstein will be Junior Joe Reed and Senior Ryan Gibb. Freshman Ignacio Martinez, and Junior Daniel Frey will also rotate in on defense.
The group will be working in front of a new goalkeeper however, in Senior Andre Schiavone.
“Andre and I realize that communication is very important, and we both see the field and understand the game very well so we connect on a great level,” said Silverstein. “As for the backline we all work together as a unit to achieve our one common goal, which is to play the best soccer we can.”
In the Midfield area, team captain Ryan Ruhalter will help direct the troops tasked with supporting the defense in clearing the ball out of their own end, while also advancing it into the offensive zone to create scoring chances.
“Our experience and organization will be key to our success this year,” said Ruhalter. “Santiago Rodriguez, and Kyle are also returning starters this year, and we will maintain an organized defense and midfield.
Rodriguez will join Ruhalter as the other Center Midfielder, while Erick Pino and Chris Keaney will work the sidelines as outside Midfielders responsible for pushing the ball up field and crossing it into the box for scoring chances.
AJ Cacciaciarne, Cole Jenkins, Corey Wichansky and Ethan Kim have also been seeing some time at the Midfield spot during preseason scrimmages, and hope to contribute when called upon during the season.
Up top at Forward, the Rams will look to get their goals from a group of four players, including Seniors Chris Lubrano and Akay Utku. Juniors Josh Levy and Alex Marks are the other two who will spend considerable time at Striker and hope to provide the Rams with a scoring punch.
“This pre-season coach has been preaching the importance of getting better each day and committing ourselves to become better as a team and as individuals every chance we get to step on the field,” said Ruhalter. “We have many returning varsity players that are confident in playing at this level, and know what it takes to win games. So we are expecting to win many games and give every team we play a challenge.”
The Rams open their season on Wednesday, Sept. 4 on the road at Morris Knolls. Game time is 4:00 pm.