Matt Sloan

Matt Sloan Credit: James Escher

Can Carey and Jericho take the next step?

Carey and Jericho are coming off deep playoff runs and with the majority of their teams back, both are in positions to challenge for the Nassau A title. Carey entered last year’s playoffs as a No. 18 seed and made it to a semifinal, falling to Floral Park. Jericho made it to the championship, where it also lost to Floral park.

“Whether you’re an underdog, which we were last year or one of the teams that everyone’s looking forward to playing, it doesn’t really change anything,” Carey’s Nick Acquafredda said. “You just have to go in and play the game you want to play and hopefully you get the right result.”

Jericho returns eight starters and a deep bench that could help the team get off to a better start than last year (0-2-2).

Will Matt Sloan stay on the back line?

Matt Sloan led Hicksville to the Nassau AA title with 12 goals and two assists. That might look like the numbers of an immovable forward, but he’s so valuable to the team that he can play virtually anywhere. He’s moving to the back line this season.

“I think that shows how well-rounded we are this year that we can take our best scorer from last year and put him in the back, so we’re secure,” Sloan said. “But we have enough options going forward that we’ll be fine that way.”

Can Amityville repeat?

The Warriors surprised a lot of people by winning a state title after starting the postseason as a No. 5 seed in Suffolk A. Count sophomore Rolman Guardado among them. He scored the winner in the state semifinal and is now looking to make success the new normal for his high school days.

“I didn’t expect it coming. I thought I was going to be big, but not exploding,” Guardado said, while wearing his state title jacket. “And being a big part of winning states, just already?”

Chaminade and Whitman will also be defending state titles this season.

Can Glen Cove become a force?

An offensively explosive group returns a lot of talent and goal-scoring ability, but with that comes the need to work together as a team. That was easier said than done last season.

“We just have to put our egos aside,” said Delwin Hernandez, Nassau’s top returning points scorer. “Literally just play the game.”

The pacing of the Big Red offense makes communication even more important, and with so many capable players, getting on the same page could make it a juggernaut. All it takes is a couple simple observations. “Understand everyone’s movement,” Jelson Bonilla said. “Understand everyone’s touch.”

Could rule changes affect offense?

Both counties are taking a step to bring regulations closer to what’s used for club soccer and FIFA. The most notable change is how a defender affects an offside ruling. Previously, if a defender deflected a pass intended for a player who was beyond the back line, that offensive player was declared offside. Now, if a player retrieves the deflection from a defender attempting to play the ball, he isn’t offside, Suffolk coordinator Lou Hanner and Nassau assistant coordinator Allen Foraker said separately.

The changes are part of an effort to make the game more consistent for officials, who occasionally can be refereeing high school in different leagues, club and college matches.

Boys’ soccer preview: 5 key questions

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