Thunderbirds Prep For Early Soccer Strike
The Half Hollow Hills East varsity boys soccer team may only have eight seniors on a team of 28, but both the players and coaches agree that their sense of discipline and maturity is what will distinguish them from other teams this fall.
Looking to bounce back from falling in last year’s Suffolk Class AA finals to No.1 Brentwood, Head Coach Tiziano Carcone said sticking to the game plan and capitalizing on offensive opportunities are crucial to elevating their game to the next level.
Seniors returning for their last season on the League II team include Zachary Gillam, Zachary Goldglit, Jonathan Gropper, Kyle Harris, Daniel Reiss, John Schebece and captain Will Slattery.
Carcone appointed three players, Slattery and juniors Justin Hassenfled and Noah Waxner, as captains for the 2013-2014 season.
“They’re very disciplined and know what they have to do to win. They have game-time experience and they’ve all stepped up,” Carcone said.
Striking down the competition early in the season, the Thunderbirds defeated East Islip 1-0 in a non-league game last Thursday. With no goals scored in the first half at East Islip, Waxner, off of a cross assist from sophomore Spencer Manus, scored a goal in the 59th minute to lead one to zip.
Slattery had 6 saves for Hills East, while his East Islip opponent had 9 saves.
“They stuck to the game plan… They [East Islip] like to muscle their way in, and we didn’t give them any offensive capabilities. We had many opportunities, but we just put one away,” Carcone said. “We dominated most of the game.”
Waxner, who scored the goal, said he took advantage of the Redmen’s fumble.
“You need to be creative on the field. You have to play in the moment, and that’s gonna be the feat that’s ahead of us in each game,” Waxner said.
Slattery said his senior standing does not make him any more qualified than his junior captain counterparts.
“It doesn’t mean much because these guys are skilled enough to play at any level. We might be younger, we may be small and mighty, but we definitely can be league champions, and if we can, we will,” Slattery said.
Head coach for seven years, Carcone said he has high hopes for the T-birds this season. Carcone said the team plans to take the season one game at a time until they make it to playoffs, when they hope to upset last year’s No.1 Brentwood.
“My boys, one thing about this team is that they are the most coachable I’ve ever had. On the spot I can play chess with them and they only listen to me. On the spot, they tune out every one else,” the coach said.
Hassenfeld said the team’s sense of unity, which they started building their freshman year, translates on and off the field today, making them stronger as a whole team.
“It will prepare you better for life. In the last two months we’ve had to find a way to work together, while some other teams have played together for longer. [The coaches] are always reliable and whatever he says, we’re all gonna listen… He really pushes us,” Hassenfeld said.
“We trust what he tells us and what he says – we know it’s gonna work and that he’s doing it for our benefit,” Waxner added.
Hills East will play Walt Whitman at home on Friday. Game time is set for 4 p.m.