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Wantagh uses weekend trip to build team unity
The Wantagh boys soccer team took a trip to Syracuse this weekend to play a game against East Syracuse-Minoa, but coach Tom Liguori had a much greater goal in mind.
Liguori wanted to take the 10-hour bus ride upstate to build team unity and help the players bond, which he believes will lead to success on the field.
“These things don’t come around too often,” Liguori said. “It’s more than playing a game, we grew a lot closer as a team in a short amount of time.”
The game was played to honor the 20th anniversary of Wantagh's first state championship win in 1992, when the Warriors defeated East Syracuse-Minoa 3-1. Liguori was part of that state championship team.
“When I think back about the game, I don’t remember it,” he said. “I think about everything besides the victory, about being on the bus with my friends and bonding off the field. We were united, we cared about each other, and I think that’s what was most important.”
Wantagh was again the victor on Saturday, defeating the Spartans 1-0. Junior Patrick Quigley scored a goal in the 12th minute off a cross from senior Chris Iannetta. Senior Kevin Laibach and junior Lucas Neroda combined for the shutout.
Once Liguori explained the history of the ’92 team to his team, they raised money to take the trip. The players share Liguori’s feelings on the importance of team unity.
“Team unity is everything, it makes us play better,” Laibach said. “When everyone is united, you vibe off each other. It meant a lot to us to take this trip.”
Liguori dedicated the trip to his former coach, Tom O’Leary, who he took over for in 2003.
“I thought about him the whole time,” Liguori said. “ He had a huge influence on me; I’m following in his footsteps.”
The Warriors hope to turn things around this season after winning just one game last year.
“This team is good,” Liguori said. “But for them to be great, they have to embody these characteristics of unity and caring about each other.”