The South Plainfield High School boys soccer team has put together quite a few good seasons recently. The past four years have seen the Tigers earn a state title, conference and division titles and back-to-back-to-back-to-back consecutive winning seasons.
The 2017 South Plainfield squad will be quite a bit younger than we’ve seen in recent years, but even with that, the Tigers and their head coach Anthony Perfilio expect to keep some of that success going in this coming season.
Last year, midfielders Jacob Villacres and Jake Hoffman led the Tigers to a 15-6-1 season and a GMC-White division title win. With both players gone due to graduation, South Plainfield will be looking to new players to step up both on and off the pitch. In addition to providing leadership, the two graduated players also were the focal point of the team’s offense, as Villacres led the team in goals with 17 while Hoffman netted ten.
For leadership, Perfilio, will be looking towards his four captains, seniors Isaiah Storah and John Boyce and juniors Ian McCoid and Marc Giordano.
“We are extremely young this year, so I am hopeful that these four veteran players will bring some much needed experience,” said Perfilio, who is entering his 13th year at the helm of the program. “We are also hopeful that Erwin Paleaz (senior) and Chris Born (junior) will be standouts as first year varsity players.
When it comes to offense, the Tigers will most likely have to rely on a more balanced attack than just one dominant lightning rod of a striker. Storah, Giordano, and Boyce are expected to pick up most of the Tigers’ goals this year, while sophomores Nick Atehortua, Gabe Mont, and Adrian Dominguez will be looking to take advantage of their chances in front of the net as well. Perfilio says only time will tell if one player can establish himself as the focal point of the offense.
“If we gel as a unit and remain healthy, I can see multiple players scoring,” the coach said. “However, I am not sure if we will have that 20 goal scorer that we have had in the past.”
“I am hopeful that goals will come from a bunch of different players,” Perfilio added. “We are really putting a lot of emphasis on our defense. Once we are able to lock our defense down, goals will follow on the offensive side.”
The Tigers will have some new faces on the defensive side of the field as well. With former standout goalkeeper Nick Plate graduating, Perfilio will be turning to freshman Bryan Cruz as the starter in net.
“(Cruz) is a legit goalkeeper,” said Perfilio. “He's a very good reactive goalkeeper. He is very good technically. I also have a solid back-up in regard to sophomore Jake Jones. He will push Cruz for the starting role every day.”
The Tigers success will most likely depend greatly on the play of their younger players, and Perfilio says he’s confident their play can keep them competitive in the White division, the GMC, and state tournament play.
Here’s a full look at the 2017 roster and its changes from last year:
Nicholas Atehortua So. Forward
John Boyce Sr. Midfield
Adrian Dominguez So. Midfield
Marc Giordano Jr. Midfield/Center Back
Michael Marrero Jr. Midfield
Ian McCoid Jr. Center Back
Gabriel Mont So. Midfield
Isaiah Storah Sr. Midfield/Forward
Kevin Veliz So. Midfield/Back
Jake Hoffman All-White Division, All-State
Jared Marks All-White Division
Nick Plate All-White Division, All-GMC, All-State
Jacob Villacres All-White Division, All-GMC, All-State,
Alex Ardito Jr. Back
Victor Balewicz Fr. Midfield
Chris Born Jr. Midfield/Back
Bryan Cruz Fr. GK
Joseph Frascino Fr. Midfield/Forward
Jose Galdamez Mauricio So. Back/Midfield
David Guevara Jr. Back
Christansen Gunawan Sr. Back
Jake Jones So. GK
George Mangandi Fr. Forward
Julio Mauricio Fr. Back/Midfield
Agastya Patel So. Midfield
David Rovayo Fr. Midfield