Each season, Cesar Markovic preaches to the members of the Siena men’s soccer squad the importance of team chemistry.
“I’m always talking about family,” the Saints’ fourth-year head coach said, “about being united, about being like a bunch of brothers.”
That mindset has been easier to implement this season.
Within the Saints’ 32-man roster this season are the coach’s sons, senior Danilo Markovic and freshman Alessandro Markovic — plus another set of brothers with freshman Marco Curto, freshman Matteo Curto and junior Paolino Curto, whose father Charlie Curto coached soccer at Siena for nearly 30 years.
“This is a cool thing for us,” said Cesar Markovic, whose sons are both redshirting this season. “I think the guys see this as something that pulls us together more.”
Siena has started strong this season, posting a 1-1-1 record and impressing enough to earn a No. 21 ranking in the initial top-25 national ranking from TopDrawerSoccer.com. While the Markovic brothers will not see game action this season, both Matteo Curto and Paolino Curto have played for the Saints, which are led in scoring so far this season by junior Alexander Tejera with seven points.
“That [ranking] means people see us as a good team and as a contender in the country,” said Paolino Curto, whose squad is not yet ranked in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America’s poll. “But we have to back it up.”
Getting the chance to do that with his brothers at his side is something Paolino Curto said he always hoped to do in a Siena uniform. The Colonie High School graduates never played on a competitive team all together until this year at Siena, a campus where they spent lots of time as youngsters running around as their father coached.
Matteo Curto has the mark to prove it, too. The small scar near his left eye, he said, is the result of one of the times the Curto brothers were fooling around at a Saints game and he ended up taking a spill off the back of a set of bleachers.
“We were doing everything but watching the game,” said Matteo Curto, while twin brother Marco Curto remembered it was current Siena head athletic trainer Greg Dashnaw who tended to the resulting wound.
Cesar Markovic, who coached from 2000-2003 at St. Peter’s against Siena and the Curto brothers’ father, said bringing all of the Curto boys into his program was a “no-brainer” given their skill levels and local roots. While the two sets of brothers have developed a special bond forged from the shared experiences they have from growing up in soccer families, the Curtos also add to the Saints’ sampling of players from the Capital Region along with junior Phil Barrett (Shenendehowa), sophomore Adel Cekic (Shenendehowa), freshman Eamonn Conway (Bethlehem), freshman Matt Crisafulli (CBA) and freshman Carter Haydock (Shaker).
This season’s Saints, Danilo Markovic said, have been cohesive since their first preseason workout. His father’s message has been heard.
“When I’m on the field with a yellow jersey on or I’m involved in any way with our team,” Danilo Markovic said, “it’s like I have 31 brothers out there.”