The 2016-2107 boys soccer team finished with an impressive 10-5-2 record which qualified them for the playoffs. However, at the end of a low scoring defensive game, the Colts came out on the losing end with a 1-0 score against Northport. This premature knockout set the stage for what was to come in the 2017-2018 season.
Obviously, a loss of that nature could cast a black cloud over the entire team impending their ability to perform on the field. When Coach Gannon was asked how he was able to get the team refocused for this season he responded with, “We knew going into this season we would be stronger than last season. There were many players that contributed and won awards the previous year that returned. The mindsight was to focus on the challenge ahead which was to win a league title.” Leo Mussachia, a Senior and one of the captains of the team, echoed that sentiment saying, “Coming into the season I felt confident we would have a great season because we had many returning starters. The loss in the first round last year was disappointing, but it only made us work harder to not let it happen again this year.”
The Colts got off to a respectable 2-2-1 start through their first five games rebounding after they lost the season opener against Hauppauge 2-1. Then an accomplishment so incredible, so unexpected occurred: The Colts went on a ten game win streak. Luck played a little part in this affair as seven out of the ten games were shutouts, and outsourced oppenents by a margin of 35-4. These shoutouts can be attributed to excellent play of the captain goalie, Benny Nacht. When asked about how he has been able to play at such a high level he reiterated the importance of team saying, “There are defiantly times where I have to make a big plays, but the defense helps me out a lot when we throw a shutout.” Coach Gannon praised the team’s win streak saying, “It was a collective effort. Every single person on the team fulfilled their specific role. We’ve gone through a lot of adversity, but it has only made us stronger.”
A crucial aspect about sports is the bond between the players and how that translates into production. Nick Duchatellier, another Senior captain, commented on that statement saying, “The greatest strength of the team is definitely our chemistry on and off the field. Most of us have been playing together all of high school either on JV or on Varisty and we’ve created a family-like mentality. Even though we’ve had players who were injured, other players have been able fill these positions that they’ve never played before for the benefit of the team as a whole.”
An important thing to note out of that is the Jv process as this is where the crop of the Varsity players come from. One person in particular who exemplifies this is Marcus Fraser who was a member of last year’s undefeated Jv team and had this to say about his experience, “Going undefeated on Jv last year has helped a lot of our players adapt to varsity better because we understood we needed to be done in order to win a title. All of the huge games that we needed to win on Jv to stay undefeated has helped us understand the importance of stepping up in big games.”
Something that’s extremely rare is a freshaman that has been able to start on a Varsity team. This is what he said when asked about how he’s been able excel considering his relative inexperience, “When I go on the Field I never look at myself as a freshman. I become a soccer player that wants to win. I always want more and I always want to be at my best. I want to thank Coach Gannon in believing in me and giving me the opportunity to prove myself.”
All of this culminated in a League IV title and the first home playoff game since 2013. Coach Gannon said this when asked about what it means to him that they were able to become the league champs. “It means a lot. We put in countless hours of work into winning a league title. The first goal is to make it to the playoffs the second is to win your league. The league is a grind it’s a 14 game season and the teams that win the league year in year out are the best in Suffolk County” he continued with “We are a 5 seed we aren’t concerned with the bracket or what teams we might play. You have to just take it game by game and enjoy the ride however long it lasts”.
The team’s complete focus is capitalizing on this playoff opportunity especially for the Seniors who are in their last year. When talking about why the Colts are such a formidable opponent Leo said, “On offense we have been very successful on set pieces and throw ins to help us get to an early lead. Personally I have worked on my ability to set up anyone who’s around me.” Nick also shared his thoughts, “We all know what we have to do individually but we’ve grown to understand was has to be done by everyone, and I feel like that’s the reason why we’ve been doing well. This allows us always be on the same page and it also enables us to change positions if need be.”
This is a story of redemption. There is a certain intangible energy surrounding the team that makes feel that this is the time. This is a group of players that collectively knows what it takes to win and the pain of defeat. What better way to make a statement then with a win against Hills East on our home field today, October 25th, at 2:30. Make sure you are there to show your support. Go Colts!