SOMERS, N.Y. – Since Brian Lanzetta took over as Somers’ boys soccer coach in 2016, the Tuskers have reached unparalleled levels of success.
Somers did the unthinkable, winning its first state title in school history in Lanzetta’s first season. The next year, the Tuskers were upset in the Section 1 quarterfinals, but climbed back to the top last season, winning the section title again and advancing all the way to the state finals before falling to Amityville.
The Tuskers will seek their third Section 1 Class A title in four seasons this year.
“The expectations are definitely very high,” said senior Drew Lasher. “We’re a hardworking team just looking to score goals and win games. Talent will come, we’ve just got to work on our communication skills and work as a team. The chemistry will build from there. It’ll evolve and we’ll get to states again. That’s our goal.”
Many key players have graduated, such as All-American Lucas Fecci, Jonathan Riina and goaltender Conor O’Donoghue. But there is plenty of talent returning, including three starters and a number of players who saw regular minutes.
“You definitely can’t replace Lucas Fecci and Jon Riina,” Lanzetta said. “Those are two great, talented players that when they wanted to turn it on, there was no stopping them. It’s cool because it motivates these seniors to step up and fill that empty space. That’s what’s pretty exciting. I’m watching these guys get after it and they want to be those guys that are known like Lucas Fecci and Riina. They’re motivated.”
Lasher, a senior with lightning speed, will be a scoring force for Somers. Lanzetta said the versatile Lasher can play all over the field if needed.
“Lasher is definitely the type of guy where you can play him anywhere,” Lanzetta said. “With Fecci and Riina last year, I couldn’t even put him up top. I had him playing in the defensive middle, because he’s just so athletic. I could put Lasher in the goal if I needed to. But this year I’m expecting a lot of goals from him. He’s known in the section and he’ll be marked, so we definitely need some other people to step up this year for sure.”
Lasher, who was called up to varsity as a freshman, is confident his teammates will help him fill the scoring void left with the graduations of Fecci and Riina.
“It’s big shoes to fill but it’s not just on me,” Lasher said. “We’re going to have to work as a team to get there. It doesn’t take one person to do it all. If we all work together, I think we can go and do better things.”
Senior Ethan Cukaj is one player who can help put some shots in the back of the net. He plays outside midfield.
“He’s a type of winger who can create and he’s got some shot,” Lanzetta said. “He’s definitely going to be a killer on the outside. I’m excited to watch him play his senior year. And he’s filled out too and gotten a little bit stronger this summer.”
Evan Mazzola is a talented midfielder who will be a threat for the 2019 Tuskers. “If you didn’t hear about him during last year’s sectional race then you were living under a rock,” Lanzetta said.
Sophomore midfielder Bennett Leitner burst onto the varsity scene as a freshman and Lanzetta is expecting him to have a breakout campaign. “He’s going to be a big name that you’re going to see blow up this year, which I’m super excited about,” Lanzetta said.
Lanzetta’s players agreed that Leitner will be an important factor in the team’s success.
“We have a lot weighing on him,” said senior Joe Grippo. “He played very well last year but I think this is going to be his breakout year.”
Seniors Jose and Diego Giron, twin brothers, provided minutes off the bench last season at midfield and will be thrust into bigger roles this year.
Grippo, another senior, has been a leader at midfield, but Lanzetta said he’s thinking of moving him to center back to help spark the defense.
“He’s got a great relationship with one of our starting defenders, [senior] Sean Dickson,” Lanzetta said. “They’re best friends and they really communicate and play well together. I call them the Bash Brothers and, since we’ve been training, no one’s really been getting by them. Guys like Lasher and Bennett have been struggling against those two boys in the back. It’s a good little duo back there that I’m trying to create through this preseason process.”
Derek Marques is a junior who will also be a key defensive player.
There’s a battle for replacing O’Donoghue in net between freshman Anthony Tucci and sophomore Declan Foley.
“Right now we don’t know who’s starting,” Lanzetta said. “Anthony is a freshman keeper who plays very high level club soccer and actually just won a national title out in Colorado. He’s definitely a guy right now who could take it but I also have a 6-foot sophomore who is battling for it. It’s up for grabs.”
Grippo is confident that the defense can be a strong unit.
“Me and Sean as leading seniors, I think that we’ll be able to help the goalkeepers to get them to be as vocal and as good as Conor was,” Grippo said. “They’re both big and talented but just need to work on their communication skills. They’re young so they’re not as confident. But once we help them with their confidence, they’ll be very good.”
Two rising sophomores in Michael Micceri and Daniel D’Ippolito are expected to burst onto the scene and make an impact.
“It’s like that movie ‘Kicking and Screaming’ where they say ‘pass it to the Italians,’” Lanzetta said of the sophomore duo. “They’re two small, technical and skillful players in the midfield. They really can dictate the game with the ball at their feet. I’m looking forward to watching them.”
Somers opens the season against rival Yorktown in the Huskers’ tournament at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 3.