September 2, 2009
New alignment for local teams
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Tyler Marsh of Marathon (right), battling for possession against an Elmira Notre Dame player last year, returns for his junior season for the Section 4 Class C finalists from a year ago.
It’s a new season and a new look to Interscholastic Athletic Conference boys’ soccer as the old four-division school alignment returns for the 2009 campaign.
All three local teams — Dryden High, Marathon Central and Groton Central — will be a part of what shoudl be a competeitive North Division.
Dryden will join Lansing, Trumansburg and new IAC member Whitney Point in the Large School Division. Groton and Marathon will be part of the Small School Division with Moravia, Southern Cayuga and Union Springs.
The IAC South Large School Division will feature Elmira Notre Dame, Newark Valley, Watkins Glen and Waverly. The South Small Schools include Candor, Newfield, Odessa-Montour, Spencer-Van Etten and Tioga.
The season begins Thursday as Marathon will travel to Dryden for a key early-season 4:30 p.m. match. Everyouting against a North Division team counts as each school plays a home-and-home series with the other school in their respective division (Large vs. Large, Small vs. Small) and six matches against the counterpart of opposite size (Large vs. Small) for a total of 14 league matches.
The North Large champion will meet the South Large champion for the Overall Large School title with the two small division champions meeting as well. The two boys’ and two girls’ overall championships will be decided at Tompkins Cortland County College.
With that in mind, here’s a look at the three local teams:
DRYDEN PURPLE LIONS
Coach Laszlo Engel, 10th year
12-4-2 overall in 2008
Dryden is in the best position of the local teams in terms of experience. The Purple Lions return 17 players and Coach Laszlo Engel is pleased were his team is entering the regular season.
“It has been a long preseason,” Engel stated as the Section 4 teams have been practicing since Aug. 17. “We have had two good scrimmages and are doing well.
“It is nice having a lot of guys back,” he continued. “We have experience up top, at midfield and on defense.”
The one spot that Dryden does not have a returning starter is in goal where Matt Durkee tended the nets. Despite that, Engel likes what he sees in returning senior Matt Cushman and junior Devan Jewell, who moves up from the JV ranks.
In front of the goalkeeping duo, the Purple Lions are led by senior Tim Scheftic, a second-team all-star in 2008. Joining him are returning seniors Christian Jenne, Stefan Christie and Matthew Phillips. Senior Tom Cutia played two years on the JV team as a freshman and sophomore, but took his junior year off from soccer. He is back this season with junior Nick Leyburn moving up from the jayvees.
Justin Niziol and Randy Seltzer anchor the midfield as the second-team all-star duo return for their senior seasons. Returning classmates include Tim Gray. Morgan Cutter, Austin O’Brien and Mark LaLonde, plus juniors Sam Rugg, Sean Nostrand and Donovan Jackson are back. Moving up from the JVs are Wesley Swanson-Parker and Scott LoPinto.
On the attack, Dryden will have seniors Dan Holland and Andrew Horton leading the way. Holland scored 29 goals in 2008 and earned first-team all-star status while Horton netted 16 goals and was a second-team all-star.
Junior Shane DeGetano returns to the forward line and Michael Kirsch is a first-year junior trying soccer this fall.
“Our goal is to make something happen this year,” said Engel. “We have the senior leadership and we would like to get beyond Oneonta this year.”
That means the Purple Lions would win a Section 4 title on the National Soccer Hall of Fame Fields, but there is one team that may have something to say about that. That team is the biggest threat in the North Large School Division as well.
“Lansing will be tough,” Engel said. “They have a lots of guys back as well. They have a very good youth program over there and they really pays off by the time they become varsity players.”
Coach John D’Antonio, 9th year
7-11 in 2008
It is a very young team with little depth that Coach John D’Antonio puts on the pitch this fall. The Indians only have 13 players and nine of them are sophomores. The good news is that four of those sophomores saw some varsity time in 2008 and are among eight returning players.
“We are young, but we are having good practices,” said D’Antonio. “We have a good team chemistry and the guys are ready to go.
“The best thing is these guys will scrap every game,” he continued. “We are going to come to play and we will play hard every game.”
Leading the returning group is the senior trio of Austin Tompkins, Logan Wannall and John Hilker. Tompkins was a first-team all-star in 2008 and is a two-time all-star in his career. The midfielder led Groton with 13 goals and six assists last year. Hilker will play forward or midfield this fall and looks to improve on his seven goal-two assist production in 2008. Wannall will anchor the defense.
Also returning are junior sweeper Kevin Forney along with sophomores Dana Smith, Mike Greiger, Brandon Pollack and Chad Weldon. Smith is a striker who scored five goals and added five assists in 2008. Greiger will play midfield and Weldon is a defender. Pollack is the goalkeeper and he did see some time in the net during his freshman season.
Four of the new sophomores will be penciled in at midfield. That quartet is Kraig Reife, Chris Graham, Riley Schell and Kyle Shaw. Graham could see time at midfield too. The fifth sophomore is Dominick DeMatteo and he will be the stopperback on defense.
“The North Division is stacked,” D’Antonio said. “Dryden and Lansing both have a ton of seniors and will be good.
“Nearly all the teams is our small school division are good,” he added. “Marathon is always tough. Southern Cayuga does well and Union Springs is improving.”
Coach Chip Stewart, 22nd year
17-2-1 in 2008
Down Route 11, veteran coach Chip Stewart will send his Olympians out in search of a fifth straight division title. Marathon lost to Delhi in the Section 4 title game in 2008.
“We had a good senior group and we have too overcome the loss of some very talented players,” Stewart said. “The good news is we do have a great nucleus of returning players. The team chemistry has been much better.
“I don’t think we are as fast overall this season,” he continued. “I do think that we are better technically. We can move the ball around well. We just need to put it in the net better.”
Heading the list of returning players are seniors Josh Lincoln (midfield), Jared Davenport (stopperback), John Robinson (midfield-defense), Brendan Morrison (midfield), Doug Whitney (striker-midfield), Mike Bellefleur (striker), David O’Shea (defense), Jared Elliott (defense) and Nick Barry (defense). Lincoln and Davenport were both first-team all-star defenders in 2008.
Also returning is first-team all-star Tyler Marsh, a junior striker-midfielder, and second-team all-star goalkeeper Evan Holl, a sophomore this fall.
New the varsity ranks this season are juniors Ted Morrison (midfield-defense), Tyler Zelsnack (midfield), Alex McDonald (midfield-striker), Erik McGowan (midfield-striker) and Tyler Barry (defense), plus sophomores Tyler Nelson (striker-midfield), Austin Fox (defense-midfield) and Eric Barry (defense). Morrison played on the JV team in 2008, but did join the varsity roster for sectionals. Zelsnack, McDonald and McGowan were also JV players one year ago.
Stewart knows the IAC North Small School Division will be a challenge again.
“Union Springs is a better team,” he stated. “Southern Cayuga is always competitive and tough. Groton is young this year and I really don’t know much about Moravia.
“We need to finish our runs off this year,” Stewart continued. “I still need to figure out the best combination of players on the field. We do have a good group of guys who will make sacrifices for the team instead of individual honor.”
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