SUMMIT, NJ - The Summit High School Boys Varsity Soccer team grabbed two wins out of the gate in 2015, then lost three in a row, a trio of matches that saw them score a sum total of one goal. At that point, Head Coach Ashley Sularz was wondering just what his team's fortunes would be, in what was then his first season at the helm.
The Maroon & White then traveled to Governor Livingston, dropped a seven spot on the Highlanders -- truth be told the Hilltoppers could have scored a few more -- and began an 12-match unbeaten run. During the undefeated streak, they defeated the likes of Linden, Cranford, Chatham and Livingston, outscored their opposition by a collective total of 45-10, and registered seven 'clean sheets'.
Summit advanced deep into the Union County Tournament, only to have the soccer Gods intervene and smote their souls in their semifinal against Scotch Plains-Fanwood (SP-F). Up 1-nil and way deep into -- as in past -- the allotted stoppage time, the Raiders were awarded a penalty kick, which they converted. The match eventually ended 1-1 After Extra Time and went to a penalty kick shootout, which SP-F won 5-4.
In the State Tourney, Summit fell to Middletown North, "switching off for 10 minutes" in the words of Sularz and surrendering three goals, which proved a mountain too tall to climb. Still, they finished with a very strong final season record of 15-4-3. Sularz's measured assessment is that his 2015 squad "met expectations."
Graduation claimed virtually all of the Hilltopper defensive unit, with goalkeeper Alex Dadourian, and defenders Evan Kulpan, Nicholas Ritter, Peter Guadagno, and Luke Mahoney all departing. Also among those matriculating was target striker Darryl Martin, but clearly the 'new' part of the 2016, 'new look' Hilltoppers will be on its backline.
The team's lightning rod, its talisman, is gifted senior forward Jafeth Reyes who, quite frankly, terrifies and terrorizes opposition defenders with a lethal combination of uber pace and touch. Reyes will operate 'up top' in a 4-3-3 formation, along with juniors Delmar Argenal, Kesley Souza, and Edwin Navas and senior Kevin Martinez.
While teams will certainly game-plan around Reyes and how to neutralize him, the expected the chemistry between the three front-runners will mean that it will be difficult for opponents key on any one player.
In the midfield, Andres Chacon will pull the strings, supported by junior captain Michael Greenstein, Keiran McKeown and senior Dylan Meneses.
The rebuilt backline will be anchored by senior captain Griffin Wyckoff, along with juniors Aidan Lines and Liam Galligan. Outside back selections including Andres Munoz, Cole Schneider, and sophomores Sam Burvill and Ryan Hecker.
The Hilltoppers depth means that several players -- such as McKeown, Galligan, Burvill and others -- can play, and fit in at, multiple positions.
Between 'the sticks' senior Sam O'Sullivan and junior James Ford are vying for the starting role.
On the change from last season's traditional 4-4-2 formation, Sularz says, "The 4-3-3 formation suits us better. We have the resources up front, a good midfield core, and it will allow our wing backs to join the play."
The Head Coach adds, "We want to possess the ball, not just be a counter-attacking team, even though we have the ability to counter-attack very effectively."
The team's primary goal is to win the Union County Conference Mountain Division Title, and then go from there. Four of the Hilltoppers first five matches are against the remaining members of the Division, which will provide an early indicator of how successful Sularz and his charges will be in attaining their main objective.
Summit High School Boys Varsity Soccer Team - 2016 Roster
4 - Michael Chambers, senior - Forward / Midfield
11- Kevin Martinez, senior - Forward
23 - Dylan Meneses, senior - Midfield
14 - Alvaro Michelena, senior - Midfield
2 - John Moya, senior - Midfield
00 - Sam O'Sullivan, senior - Goalkeeper
10 - Jafeth Reyes, senior - Forward
18 - Griffin Wyckoff, senior - Defense (c)
9 - Delmar Argenal, junior - Forward
7 - Andres Chacon, junior - Midfield / Forward
27 - Preston Coke-Corkern, junior - Goalkeeper
12 - Christiaan De Jongh, junior - Defense
26 - Jack Fineman, junior - Defense
1 - James Ford, junior - Goalkeeper
8 - Liam Galligan, junior - Defense / Midfield
19 - Michael Greenstein, junior - Midfield (c)
13 - Aidan Lines, junior - Defense
15 - Keiran McKeown, junior - Defense / Forward
3 - Andres Munoz, junior - Defense / Midfield
6 - Edwin Navas, junior - Forward
24 - Andrew Ovares, junior - Defense
25 - Anderson Porsse, junior - Forward
20 - Cole Schneider, junior - Defense
16 - Kesley Souza, junior - Forward
22 - Sam Burvill, sophomore - Midfield / Defense
21 - Ryan Hecker, sophomore - Defense / Midfield
(c) denotes Team Captains
Varsity Head Coach Ashley M. Sularz
Assistants: Chris O’Brian, Kevin Zaleski (JV) and Daniel Trench (Freshmen)
Team Managers: Jack Clark, Ariel Salazar, Patrick Tully
Summit High School Boys Varsity Soccer Team - 2016 Schedule
September 8 @ Governor Livingston, 4 p.m
September 10 @ Linden, 10 a.m.
September 13v. David Brearley, 4 p.m.
September 15 @Cranford , 4 p.m.
September 17 v. AL Johnson, 10 a.m.
September 20 @ Union, 4 p.m
September 22 v. Jonathan Dayton, 4 p.m.
September 24 @ Plainfield, 10 a.m.
September 27 v. Governor Livingston, 4 p.m.
September 29 v. Linden, 4 p.m.
October 1 @ Union County Tournament (UCT), Time TBD
October 4 @ Westfield, 4 p.m.
October 6 v. Cranford, 4 p.m
October 8 @ UCT, Time TBD
October 10 @ Ridge, 4 p.m.
October 11 @ TBA, Time TBD
October 15 @ UCT, Time TBD
October 18 @ Elizabeth, 4 p.m.
October 20 v. Scotch Plains-Fanwood, 4 p.m.
October 22 @ UCT. Time TBD
October 25 @ AL Johnson, 4 p.m.
October 27 v. New Providence, 4 p.m
October 29 @ UCT Finals, Time TBD
All Home matches played at Tatlock Park.