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HIGH SCHOOLS / CHSAA SOCCER PREVIEWS / A Winning Start for St. John

It was hard for Cordt Weinstein to deliver the pregame

speech before his boys soccer team took the field for the first time. The new

St. John the Baptist coach became overwhelmed and emotional, recalling the

times his former coach and mentor, Tom Bouklas, gave his first pregame speech

of the year. Bouklas retired this summer after 32 years of coaching.

"I was nervous throughout the preseason," said Weinstein, who played for

Bouklas from 1986-90 and had been the assistant coach since 1993. "But the boys

put my mind at ease by scoring early goals. It blew me away that I was the

coach."

Weinstein, 30, the Long Island Rough Riders' all-time leading scorer,

watched as St. John manhandled upstate rivals, Section II's Shenendohowa, 5-0,

and Section III's Liverpool, 3-0, in non-league games.

It's no wonder Weinstein doesn't flinch when told that one national poll

ranked St. John (15-1-2 last season) No. 3.

"I think [the national ranking] is going to focus us because I've been

there before and I know what it takes," Weinstein said.

Weinstein played under pressure while winning the NCAA Division II national

championship twice when he played forward with Southern Connecticut State

(1990, '92).

While Weinstein was the assistant coach at St. John the Baptist in 1993,

the Cougars went 18-0. Once the CHSAA included Long Island in the state

championship in 1996, St. John the Baptist won its first title, 2-0, against

Archbishop Molloy (Queens).

Returning for the defending CHSAA champions are junior forward Ray Hasset

(18 goals), who scored eight goals in the first three games; and seniors Will

Hall, George Spanos, E.J. Xikis and Joey Bracker.

Chaminade (14-2-1) tied St. John the Baptist, 2-2, in overtime, last week

and according to Flyers coach Mike Gallagher, it was the right motivator for

his young team.

"We plan to fight and claw our way to the championship," said Gallagher,

who graduated 15 players.

Keeper Derek Sudan, defenseman James Watson, midfielder Alex Popadoplus and

forward Eric Leidner provide senior experience.

St. Anthony's (8-8-1) returns three seniors, forward Anthony Graci, keeper

Ryan Dunne and midfielder Dan Lowe. But for coach Gene Buonaiuto, the agenda

stays the same: "Our main goal is still to make it to the playoffs and to be

able to play with the tougher teams in the league," he said.

Kellenberg (8-7) returns eight seniors, including midfielder Joe Weill,

sweeper Matt Morrissey, fullback D.J. Meisse, keeper Kyle Wilson and stopper

Dennis Graham. Coach Joe McCann said his team's goal is to simply make the

playoffs.

First-year coach Mike Nivivaggi takes over at Holy Trinity (3-9) and will

look to a trio of seniors: keeper Ryan Gerdts, midfielder Jamie Hure and

fullback Daniel Wade.

St. Dominic (3-10) and St. Mary's (0-8) look to improve.

CHSAA Boys Outlook

Favorite: St. John the Baptist (15-1-2), Cordt Weinstein (first year).

Contenders: Chaminade (14-2-1), St. Anthony's (8-8-1), Kellenberg (8-7). Key

Players: St. John the Baptist Jr. F Ray Hasset, Srs. F Will Hall, S George

Spanos, G E.J. Xikis, M Joey Bracker; Chaminade Srs. G Derek Sudan, D James

Watson, M Alex Popadoplus, F Eric Leidner; St. Anthony's Srs. F Maciej Serafin,

F Anthony Graci; Kellenberg Srs. M Joe Weill, S Matt Morrissey, FB D.J.

Meisse, G Kyle Wilson, S Dennis Graham; Holy Trinity Srs. G Ryan Gerdts, M

Jamie Hure, F Daniel Wade. Games to Watch: St. John the Baptist at St.

Anthony's, Oct 8, 4:15 p.m.; St. John the Baptist at Chaminade, Oct. 15, 4:15

p.m.

New York Sports