It’s a new season, a fact not lost on Williamsville East boys soccer team.
The Flames graduated last year’s WNY Player of the Year, Brandon Schick, along with his school record 41 goals. That’s a lot of offense to account for.
“We’re a good team, we just have to play different from last year. We had Schick last year, the wild pony, we just let him run,” said coach Jeff Librock. “We’re redefining ourselves. After the first few games we’re starting to see the light. We have to have shorter passes, set up the long ball and be patient.”
Williamsville East was the only team out of five to advance out of last year’s Far West Regionals against Rochester. The Flames advanced to the state final four where they lost to eventual champion Jericho of Section VIII.
This year the Flames, off to a 6-0 start, are led by their defensive core of Colin Greenway, Timmy Gesel, Mitch Koch and Nick Clough. Mitch Fors leads the team in scoring. Greenway was All-Western New York in lacrosse last spring.
• Canisius has a lot to live up to this season after being crowned champion of the NYSCHSAA, an organization of the downstate and WNY Catholic schools not members of a section. The Crusaders finished fourth in the National Soccer Coaches Athletic Association poll for Region II and were among 19 teams receiving votes in the NSCAA’s final national top 25.
Canisius (4-0) is off to an impressive start as its defense has given up no goals in the first four games. Carrying the offense has been senior Jacob Montante, one of only two returning first team All-WNY players. He’s a three-year starter and two-year captain.
“We’re pretty loose, the guys get along great, there’s no inter-groups, they’re a full 28-man roster,” said coach Sam Belsito. “Right now the guys returning from last year are at a different level, a faster pace, but they’ve embraced the younger guys and those guys are helping out.”
Seniors Mike Anders and Kevin Armstrong are also three-year starters.
Holland looks to return to the form that won sectional titles in 2008, 2009 and 2011. Junior midfielder Clay Lewis led last year’s team in scoring. Matt Finley, who played the field last year, moves into goal.
The Dutchmen are the only Class C team in ECIC IV. They lost 1-0 games to Class A Lake Shore and Springville to start the season.
Lancaster won its first four games before falling to Spencerport on Saturday. The Redskins are a veteran team with 13 seniors and eight juniors. Returning all-star Carmelo Cimato has a strong presence in the back and leads by example. Matt Kruszewski is a versatile player and can be an make an impact from any position. Luke Loecher distributes the ball well and is tough defensively.
Orchard Park’s Connor Saeli led the team in goals and points last year as a sophomore. Sophomore Tommy Roder has good field awareness and solid defensive skills. Noah Kohl has excellent ball skills and can score.
Sweet Home finished 12-4-2 last year with three of the losses to section champ Williamsville East. This year the Panthers are off to a 6-1 start led by senior Bryan Daigler, who already has 11 goals and four assists. Also back is all-league forward Brock Prizel (11 goals in 2012).
Sweet Home went 2-0 in the Coaches vs. Cancer ECIC/NFL Challenge and won the Amherst Tournament for the fourth consecutive year.
Garrett Rehner, a four-year starter for West Seneca East, has the size and skill to dominate on defense. Another defenseman, Kyle Bork, is a three-year starter with above-average speed and skill. The Trojans could be without their starting goalie. Freshman Richard Wagner suffered an apparent head injury early in the second half of Thursday’s Sweet Home game when he collided with a teammate.
Iroquois has been in the A-1 or A-2 final in each of the last three years. After a year of playing in local soccer academy, Drew Braun is back bringing with him his exceptional vision and field presence. Junior Matt Glowny returns after a solid season in goal and Ricky Gorczyca is a talented striker who can score from nearly anywhere.
Williamsville North has a young team with keeper AJ Aquilino and Jimmy Bailey as the only seniors on the roster.
Williamsville South captain Paul Malinowski is a skilled player who started last year as a sophomore. Senior Andy Buell, a league all-star, shines on defense.
Starpoint has scored 20 goals over the first five games, with 10 different players scoring. Three-year player and captain Ryan Schupp is an endless worker and playmaker. Junior Nick Dumond has played varsity since ninth grade and is the Spartans’ best attacking player with five goals and two assists so far.
West Seneca West returns 10 players, including senior co-captains Andy Bartz and Jon Rehner. Senior Kyle Pulaski and junior Kris Rehner are keys to the defense.
Hamburg is being led by one of the top juniors in the area, Shane Greene, who has seven goals in five games. “He can do it all, technical, great athleticism and finishes all his chances,” said first-year coach Bulldogs coach Tony Schiappa. Seniors Zach Dake and Dan Meissner are dangerous in the final third of the field.
Maryvale’s success will hinge on three-year starters Zach Hermanski, Tyler Dielbold and striker Jacob Braymiller.
Lake Shore senior captain Wade Bergum led the league in scoring with a school-record 28 goals last season. The other senior captain, Bryce Parker-Norton, broke the school record for single season shutouts with seven.
Eden returns all 11 starters including Brad Palmerton, who helped lead the team to eight shutouts last year. Jon Bley is looking to improve on 11 goals from last year. Anthony Sinnott and Henry Ohmit are center midfielders who control the pace of game.
Pioneer is being led in scoring by Agusto Bang, an exchange student from Brazil. Walker Darling is a key defender and Tylor Masonis a three-year starter at midfield.
Upstart Frontier welcomes the return of Brendon Galanti, an academy player from a year ago.
Niagara Frontier League
Lockport is coming off a 19-0-1 season with a loss in a shootout to Clarence to move to regionals. The Lions lost senior All-NFL player and potential leading scorer Josh Beshaw to an ACL tear in June. Senior Hunter Sherman and juniors Braden Chamberlain and Maurice Channer are being counted on to pick up the slack. Senior goalkeeper Bailey Reid, along with senior Lukais Sciandra, will lead the defense.
Don’t be surprised if Niagara-Wheatfield wins the NFL. “This most likely is the deepest team I have ever coached,” said coach John Coulter. “We have 19 contributors and our level of play remains consistent regardless of who is on the field.” The Falcons (2-2) have early wins over Lockport and Kenmore East and their losses were to ranked teams.
Jeremy Bari was second in the NFL in scoring last year as a sophomore and already has five goals in four games. Bari and Noah Asklar, a real playmaker, were all-league picks a year ago. Nick Sperazza and Mike Scholl have a combination of speed and size that can shut down the defensive third of the field.
Lew-Port’s Austin Barr has adjusted well in goal replacing Ben Hastings, who is out for the season with a torn ACL. Bobby Stevens and Dane Parlato have been impressive on defense and Dante Aversa has looked strong up top.
Newfane looks to repeat as Niagara-Orleans champions led by captain Patrick Eadie, a returning league all-star. Senior co-captains Skyler Maurer and Mike Lekanka will help Eadie in the midfield. Newfane started the season as WNY’s No. 1 ranked small school and has a 3-1 record. Last weekend, they won the Holley Hawks Varsity Soccer Tournament.
Akron looks to remain among the section’s elite teams. Not only have the Tigers won the Niagara-Orleans League five of the last six years, they’ve won three of the last five sectional titles.
This year’s team is loaded with seniors with state final four and sectional championship experience. Senior striker Chris Mayrose is averaging more than a goal per game. Clutch midfielder Randy Mayer has three overtime goals in his career. Goalie Austin Medole is nearing his 20th career shutout and hopes to get to number 25 by season’s end.
The Tigers look to add to their 3-0 league start in their quest to reclaim their league and sectionals crowns.
Medina/Lyndonville, just two years removed from its last sectional title in 2011, returns senior midfielder Scott Barber, a physical player coming off an all-star season. Senior Anthony Pane is a four-year starter who runs the offense from the midfield. Steven Anderson started the season with hat tricks in his first two games.
North Collins earned its 24th sectional title last year. Junior Kyle Loretto is a strong, fast utility player and senior defender Zane Lloyd is a model soccer player. Three exchange students are making it a fun season. Vincenzo Giancaspro is from Italy, Ben Schubert hails from Germany and Ahmed Ellethy is from Egypt.
Junior Tyler Kubasik, who is tall and athletic, has caught on fast as Dunkirk’s first-year goalie. Senior Zack Meadows was last year’s leading scorer. Antonio Robles earned a roster spot as a freshman.
Randolph, last year’s CCAA II champions at 12-0, return the league’s Player of the Year in senior Zach Jackson. Coach Dave Levandowski said Jackson has a tremendous work ethic and great defensive awareness. League all-star Mathew Born has a nice touch on the ball and the ability to finish. Junior Nick Carpenter, another league all-star, has standout technical skill and is showing leadership ability.
Frewsburg center mids Jacob Annis and Jesse Ernewein can control a game, distribute and score. Forward Derek Smith has lots of speed.
Last year’s Class C champion, Maple Grove, is coming off an 18-2-1 campaign. Defense has been the focus led by Nathan Saar, a CCAA III all-star. Returning keeper Kyle Richardson broke the school record with 14 shutouts. Including the 3-0 loss in the Regionals to Williamson, the Red Dragons surrendered eight goals overall in 21 games. This year’s offense will be led by sophomores Dominick Fabrizio and Patrick Crossley and run by senior Riley Beaton.
Southwestern, winner of CCAA I with a 9-0-1 record, return league all-stars Tanner Hoose and Tristan Desnerck.
Ellicottville finished 9-9 last year, but came up big late reaching the sectional finals against North Collins. Senior Connor Greene had a four-goal game earlier this season against Portville. Senior Goalie Jeremy Bordini is a four-year player.
Ryan Thierman and Cody North both have goal-scoring ability for Portville.
Alex Macchioni and Justin Davison bring five years of varsity experience to Cattaraugus-Little Valley.
Olean’s only returning starters have been productive thus far; Collin Young has eight goals, Christian Gayton five goals and Nick Bailey three.
St. Joe’s, which lost to Canisius, last week, 1-0, appears to be much improved with three returning All-Catholic picks, Will Boerema, Armond June and Henry Frome.
St. Francis senior Sam Eggleston is a four-year starter as well as an All-Catholic pick.
Nichols answers with a pair of returning All-Catholic picks, Peter Calleri and Seth Meyer.
Timon/St. Jude’s hopes rest with four-year starter Robbie Robinson and Drew Johnson and Aiden Gould.
An athlete with a bright future at St. Mary’s is freshman Daniel Cress.
D’Youville Cup chase
Defending D’Youville Cup champion Riverside went 17-1-1 a year ago, not losing until the Class A-2 sectional finals.
Senior goalie Sah Moo allowed just one goal last year with 18 shutouts. The Frontiers (3-0 so far) have outscored their opponents, 18-0. Junior midfielder Hassan Sabtow, a skilled shooter, has four goals in his first two games. McKinley boasts one of the best goalies in the D’Youville Cup in senior Jorge Melendez. Junior midfielder Abdi Salim generates plenty of offense and Abdulahi Mwbera is the Macks’ defensive captain.
For City Honors’ Matt Sutter and Jack Milligan are returning All-High picks. Sutter is creative in tight space and Milligan is a natural scorer.
Lafayette’s Van Thawng Khan is a skilled at controlling the ball, and third-year defender Pascale Nirampeda has good vision and control of the defense.
International Prep will be led Ezana Kahsay, a good defender and team leader, Yussuf Hussein, a top passes top scorer Pa Lu and Mohamed Hussein.
Buffalo Arts juniors Frank Luciano and Terrence Medley are the backbone of a very busy defense while senior Bailey Critoph provides leadership in the midfield.