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
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
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
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