Jonathan Bain heads into his third season as head boys’ soccer coach at Shenendehowa with a sense of comfort.
His roster is made up of veteran varsity players he coached at the junior varsity levels before taking over the program that had risen to state and national prominence in 32 years under Mike Campisi.
“This group of seniors has been with me for two years. It’s been an experience watching the kids mature and see the difference in them between sophomores and seniors,” said Bain, whose teams have gotten to the Class AA semifinals in both of his seasons as head coach.
“They’re more mature. You can see they’re a bit hungrier.”
The Plainsmen followed a 13-2-3 season in Bain’s first year with a 14-3-1 record last fall, losing just eight seniors to graduation.
“We have a lot of team chemistry, a lot of guys back,” said senior Tucker Marvin, who along with James Homan, is going into his third varsity season. “We’ve go a big senior class this year.”
“We’ve got, 17 or 18 seniors, and a lot of experience,” said Homan, who will be a central defender. “It’s a lot different.”
“We have a great deal of experience,” said Bain. “I have seniors that have played a lot, some in their third year of varsity, that have gotten significant experience at the varsity level.”
The three major players Bain needs to replace are goalkeeper Danny Juers, defender/midfielder Phil Barrett and Chris Schmid, who was the focal point of the attack in 2013.
“With a team like this, with so many returners, there weren’t as many questions,” said Bain. “I’m still moving some players around, and there are some young players that have come in and played well. That will give us more flexibility.”
Marvin noticed the familiarity from the first day of training.
“It’s a little easier, formation-wise,” he said. “Everyone knows how we’re going to play. There are just a few spots to fill.”
“I think everybody generally has a good idea of where they want to be,” Bain said. “But one of the secrets to a successful season is staying healthy.
“I’m always planning `What if? How can I make adjustments?’ ”
Bain expects the Plainsmen to play to their maturity.
“I think it’s a learning curve for the players, because they want to motivate their teammates, and help players get better, but they don’t always know how to do that,” he said. “They’re finding out what it means to be a leader.”
Homan, the lone 11th-grader selected for first-team all-league honors in 2013, can attest to that.
“I was a captain last year, but I didn’t have control over everyone because there were older guys on the team,” he said. “We’ve been playing with most of these guys for five or six years, between school and club, so we know each other.”
Shenendehowa expects to battle Shaker and Niskayuna again this year for the top spot in the Suburban Council North, with defending Class AA champ Guilderland and Bethlehem heading up the SC South.
“Shaker and Niskayuna are definitely going to be good,” Marvin said. “And Bethlehem and Guilderland will be good in the other division.”
Homan rattled off the same four schools.
“Shaker, Niskayuna, Bethlehem and Guilderland. They are all good,” he said.
Their coach also concurred.
“I think Shaker will be very good. Niskayuna will be back up,” Bain said. “What I’ve noticed the last two years is that there is a great deal of parity in the Suburban. I think every team has gotten stronger.
“If you look at Colonie, I think Matteo Curto was one of the best sophomores in the area, and he’s back. Connor DeFilippis of Ballston Spa is back.
“You have teams that no matter what they have, they’re always good. Bethlehem is always good. Guilderland graduated a good number of seniors, but they’ll have a good team.”