Jonathan Bain not only replaced a legendary coach when he took over the Shenendehowa boys’ soccer program last season.
He also inherited a young team.
Those precocious Plainsmen went through the first half of last season unbeaten, and finished atop the North Division of the Suburban Council at 12-2-2 (18 points). Most of that team returns from a loss in the Class AA semifinals to Niskayuna.
“We’ve got eight starters back from what was a very young team,” said Bain, whose club opened this season with a 6-1 win over Ballston Spa. “The nice part about that is a lot of people got significant playing time, and last year’s sophomores and juniors are now juniors and seniors with a full year of varsity experience.”
Senior Phil Barrett is back to anchor the defense, with classmate Chris Schmid and 11th-grader James Homan expected to be major parts of the offense.
“What Phil did last year didn’t get a lot of attention, but he was so important to us,” said Bain of his central defender. “He’s such a tough competitor, and he was very steady back there.”
Graduation hit Niskayuna hard, and coach Joe Carosella has to replace most of the lineup that fell to Bethlehem in the “AA” final.
“We graduated 15 seniors,” said Carosella. “We’ve got some back who played as sophomores and juniors that we’re going to rely on.”
Central defenders Brennan Colby and Nick Shanahan, midfielder Alec Hay and defender/midfielder Kevin Chrissey are the most experienced Silver Warriors. Junior Riley McDonald looks to carry on the tradition of strong Niskayuna goalkeeping.
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake fought its usual good fight with the bigger schools during the SC season, but fell in the quarterfinals of the 2012 Class A tourney.
Ryan Capron and Luke Cameron are the top returning scorers for Roy Pfeil’s Spartans, who also return seniors Matt Nocito, Wyatt Sawyer, Dane Manhey, Matt DiSorbo, Jake VanVorst, Sam Smith and junior Ian Speck.
Mohonasen coach Cory Gregg is in a similar position, competing as one of three Class A teams in the Suburban Council.
His roster overhaul was extensive, with the likes of varsity veterans Kyle Wright, Attilio Tebano and Mike Korzun all graduated.
“We don’t have a whole lot of playmakers back,” said Gregg, whose team reached the sectional semis last fall. “We’ve got some kids back. It’s probably going to take a while for us to find our identity.”
Guilderland could be a factor in both the SC South and the “AA” tourney, led by seniors Kledis Capollari and Kedrick Weeden (goalkeeper).
Schenectady also lost a lot of talent up front.
“The turnout was good, but we’ve got a lot of players in new positions,” said coach Terry Sloan, who has midfielder Jhon Rojas and goalkeeper Andrew Cyr back.
Scotia-Glenville coach Chris Bailey not only lost all of his front runners from his three forward attack, but also had to drum up players.
“The numbers are down,”
Bailey said of his Tartans, who tied Broadalbin-Perth for the Foothills Council title a year ago. “I’ve got basketball and lacrosse players on the team.”
Scotia’s success will hinge on how quickly the rest of the attack gets used to playing with talented sophomore Owen Fingar. Senior goalkeeper Adam Ashcroft will have to marshall a new defense.
Broadalbin-Perth will be strong again, with Francisco Mastrocinque and Justin Marek leading the returning players from a team that lost nine seniors after dropping a one-goal decision to eventual state champ Ichabod Crane in the Class B semis.
Schalmont could be poised for a big postseason run, with Virginia Tech-bound senior Gino Rossi orchestrating the attack from central midfield, sophomore Cameron LaVallee a proven scorer and seniors Joe Wignot, A.J. Jasenski and Greg Musk heading a stingy defense in front of goalie Tyler Smith.
The Western Athletic Conference is back to a two-division setup, with Saratoga Central Catholic returning to varsity play.
The Saints join Galway, Mayfield, Canajoharie, Fort Plain, Northville, and the Oppenheim-Ephratah/St. Johnsville Wolves in the North.
Berne-Knox-Westerlo, Duanesburg, Mekeel Christian Academy, Middleburgh, Schoharie and Sharon Springs compose the South.
Galway’s Casey Mello and Sean Green of Middleburgh were the only two underclassmen among the WAC’s first-team all-stars in 2012.
Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons (Big 10) and Granville (Wasaren League) are not fielding varsity teams this fall.