Recent Schenectady boys’ soccer teams had gotten the reputation of having tremendously talented players that didn’t necessarily play well with their teammates.
Patriots coach Terry Sloan is ready to usher in a new era, with skilled players all over the field working as a unit.
“This is the best technical team I’ve had,” said Sloan, whose Patriots open their season at 5 today at Schalmont against Scotia-Glenville in the first round of the Capital Cup. “When I had those other guys, they were dangerous players. But we didn’t have the other pieces. We didn’t have 11 technically solid kids. Now, we do.”
Sloan credits that to this group’s willingness to play in the offseason.
“We’re working with FC Dutchmen, and we’re working with the kids through there,” said Sloan. “Eleven of the kids have played club soccer, and we never had that. Nine of them played together.”
That effort was evident when the Patriots opened training on Aug. 18.
“Where I used to have to do a lot of conditioning, I don’t have to do that any more,” Sloan said. “We can spend time on technique and tactics. I’m really looking forward to the season.”
The Patriots have some holes to fill from graduation.
“We only have a few seniors,” Sloan said. “I’m starting a freshman. I’m starting sophomores. I’m getting them buy into each other, getting them to try to execute to the best of their abilty on the field.”
With the amount of first-year varsity players, the Patriots are going to need the upperclassmen to provide direction and encouragement.
“We’ve got great leadership,” Sloan said. “Kids back like Andrew Butryn, Eddie Schiliango, Justin Estremera, they’re going to have to be the leaders.”
The Patriots will be playing as an independent this fall, as will the other teams from the expired Big 10.
Sloan would have liked this Schenectady team to have had a shot at playing for a league title. But he also knows that his team will likely be playing against more Suburban Council teams in the future, after Section II places the former city schools into leagues next school year.
“I think it’s going to be good in the long run, because it’s going to force our kids to have to raise their level of play, especially if we end up in with Suburban teams,” Sloan said.
He’ll be satisfied this fall, though, if this group of young players shows improvement.
“These guys are all good kids, good community kids, good in school, good on the soccer field,” Sloan said. “You want them to succeed.”