John Pagano isn’t exactly sure what to expect when the Huntington varsity boys’ soccer team hosts back to back scrimmages on Monday and Tuesday against William Floyd and Shoreham-Wading River and then plays its first game of the season on Thursday at 4 p.m. against Smithtown West at Blue Devil Stadium.
Pagano is Huntington’s longtime head coach and he watched many talented players graduate last June. The team has a rather small number of returning veterans and many exciting newcomers to the varsity.
Returning seniors Roberto Contreras, Jose Flores, Daniel Rodrigo have been tapped to serve as the Blue Devil captains. They are joined on the roster by freshmen Justin Villatoro and Jerson Contreras; sophomores Dylan Hayden, Dante Salgado, Edwin Marroquin and Bryan Lizama; juniors Enzo Pupillo, Kieran Husselbeck, Ian Husselbeck, Kevin Velez, Roman Borovica and Vincent Grassi; and seniors Enrrique Garcia, Jeison Blanco, Christian Avelar, Julio Martinez, Liam Lennon, Matt Lange and Max Rentsch.
The Blue Devils have fielded one of the best teams in the county and state in each of the past several seasons and Pagano and assistant coach Jason Suarez are hoping to keep the streak going. But it won’t be easy.
“We are looking good,” said Lennon, who plays defense for Huntington. “The two-a-days went really well and there is a lot of talent between the returning varsity players and the new ones. The chemistry is there, which I think plays a huge part in a team’s success. I think if we work hard we can do very well this year.”
More than half of this fall’s team is comprised of underclassmen. All of them are experienced in the sport with many starting to play shortly after they learned to walk. Huntington is in a position to surprise many teams on its 14 game schedule.
The Blue Devils looked good during the first week of practice. The team trained at Breezy Park and Washington Primary School. Players are working on their timing and some are in new positions. Overall, Pagano is pleased with how the squad is coming together.
“The team looks good,” said Martinez, who as one of Huntington’s forwards is expected to be a serious scoring threat at all times. “Even though many players graduated, we still have lots of good players.”