Amityville didn't lose a game last season on its way to winning the state Class A boys soccer championship. But the Warriors graduated three All-Region players, including All-American Henry Martinez.
The team will spend the early portion of the season figuring out who will fill in those roles.
“The thing about us is that we are young, yet sort of experienced,” Amityville head coach Mike Abbondondolo said. “There are guys that have to step into bigger roles this season.”
Those players include sophomore Juan Ponce and junior Jeremy Guardado, two of the team’s four captains.
Ponce is one of the younger players on the team but also one of the more experienced, having played on the varsity team since the seventh grade. During his first season on varsity, Ponce scored the penalty kick to win the Long Island Class A championship over Glen Cove.
“He is going to have to take on that responsibility,” Abbondondolo said. “So, rather than being a role player, he has to be one of the main guys. That will be interesting to see how he handles that and it might take him some time, but he is smart enough to figure it out.”
Abbondondolo said the team won’t rely on just the four captains (goalkeeper Kyle Barsic and center back Cristian Escobar are the other two). He expects the entire team to learn more as the season goes on.
“It’s a new team and we have to go through the same ups and downs as last year,” Abbondondolo said. “We can’t skip steps in the process. That has been our main focus because everyone wants to get back up to the state championship, but we have to take it day by day.”
Half Hollow Hills West, which was picked second in Class A behind Amityville in the Suffolk coaches preseason poll, should present the greatest challenge to Amityville.
“In Class A, it is Amityville’s county until someone does something otherwise,” Hills West coach Doug Gannon said. “They are just very talented and they work year round with their head coach Mike Abbondondolo. They do a great job with their skillset and they have guys that buy into their system.”
The top team from Class B and C is the reigning Suffolk Class B champions, Center Moriches.
After a drop in enrollment, Center Moriches is now in League 7, which head coach Chris O’Brien said he is excited about.
“Center Moriches has always been one of the small schools and we have always had a very good soccer reputation,” O’Brien said. “It brings back a lot of old rivalries because we haven't been in the same league as Southold and Pierson in probably 10 years.”
Chris O’Brien said captains Michael Luongo, Liam O’Brien and Anthony Sunderman will lead the team by example as the team adjusts to a new league.