Enjoy a recap of this week's athletic scores and highlights.
Varsity Soccer - Boys
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Varsity Season Record: 5-11-3
Captains: Alex Waye ’17 and Justin Campana ’17
Athletic Awards: Most Valuable Player: Justin Campana ’17; Most Improved Player: Andrew Boniface ’18; John Breuker, Jr. Coaches Award: Alex Waye ’17; Ash Graham Spirit Award: Joey Randazzo ‘17
The season started with high expectations for the 2016 boys soccer team, but unfortunately injuries and inexperience kept the team from a winning season this fall. “When I look at this season overall, we were in every game, but it was one of those seasons where we didn’t get the bounces, and the games didn’t go our way,” said Head Coach Herb Haller. “There were numerous times this season where we had five or six sophomores on the field at once, so hopefully the experience they gained this year will help us next season.”
Many players were asked to play positions that they would not normally play due to injuries across the team, putting a lot of pressure on the remaining players. “From game to game, we had to piece things together and in hindsight, this may have hurt us. We couldn’t get continuity from game to game, and it made it difficult for kids to understand their roles
Although not finishing with a winning record, the boys soccer team still finished second in the Tri-County Soccer League, finishing just behind Central Christian School who made it to the State Championship this season. “As a Division III team, we were still very good,” said Haller.
The team will be graduating a talented group of seniors, with one of the biggest losses being one of the captains and Most Valuable Player Justin Campana ’17. “Because of some of the injuries, he was one of the players who had to play in a number of positions depending on what our needs were. He was our best defender and also finished the season as our leading scorer,” said Haller.
Other players demonstrated their talents on the field this season as well. In particular, goalkeeper Josh Weinberg ’19, established himself as one of the best goalies in the area. Only a sophomore, Haller is looking forward to having him the next few years.
Haller is looking forward to a new season next year. “I anticipate a number of the JV athletes will help contribute at the varsity level. When you combine that with the varsity kids coming back, it should be a pretty solid team next year.“
George Wiggam ‘18, Andrew Boniface ’18, and Josh Weinberg ’19 will lead the team as captains in the 2017 season.
Tri-County Soccer League - Boys (2nd Place)
First Team: Justin Campana '17, Josh Weinberg ' 19
Second Team: Jack Sovich ' 19, Alex Waye '17
Honorable Mention: Andrew Boniface '18, Chris Sprunt '17
Greater Akron Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association (GASSCA) All-District
Boys First Team: Justin Campana '17
Boys Second Team: Josh Weinberg '19
Boys Honorable Mention: Jack Sovich '19
Boys Second Team: Justin Campana '17
Varsity Season Record: 8-6-2
Captains: Peter Kuri ’16, Tim Lund ’16 and Matt Waldeck ’16
Athletic Awards: Most Improved Player: Sam LaFontaine ’16; J. Ashton Graham Spirit Award: Dan Dorman ’16; John Breuker, Jr. Coaches Award: Justin Campana ’17; Most Valuable Player: Matt Waldeck ’16
Consistently playing one of the toughest schedules in Northeast Ohio, the boys soccer team has the ability to write its own story of success. According to Head Coach Herb Haller ’85, based on the number of seniors that graduated last year (a vast majority of the team), many individuals would have considered this a “rebuilding” year. Yet, Haller was not content with that: “I think we reloaded.”
Finishing in 2nd place in the always-competitive Tri-County League, the Pioneers were led by a core group of players who were recognized by coaches in the league for their contributions to the team. Captains Peter Kuri ’16 and Tim Lund ’16 were named Honorable Mention All-League. Gustavo Kasmanas ’16 and George Wiggam ’18 were named second team All-League, while Justin Campana ’17 and Matt Waldeck ’16 were named All-League first team selections.
For Division III, in the Greater Akron District, Wiggam received an honorable mention selection for the All-District team. Kasmanas was awarded second team All-District, while Campana and Waldeck were chosen for First Team All-District. In fact, Waldeck was the runner-up for Player-of-the -Year honors in the district, as voted on by coaches. His phenomenal efforts saw him named First-Team All-Ohio during championship weekend for the fall 2015 season.
Even with this level of talent, Haller had to combat a rather large unknown coming into this season — very few players on the roster had ever played a match at the varsity level. Although the team possessed technical mastery of the game, the in-game, physical experience was lacking. That’s where his returning players asserted themselves.
“[My returning players] stepped into a leadership role,” said Haller. “Not only that, but a mentoring role for quite a few players who lacked the experience and had youth. I did not change my schedule, and I credit them for what they were able to do.”
Haller was satisfied with the way his team competed this year, mostly in their growth over the course of the season. This grit showed in games against CVCA (0-1, L) and rival University School (1-0, W).
Haller points to the U.S. game, which was a collective effort where everyone contributed, as one of the team’s defining moments.
“Based solely on the history of the game and the history between the two schools, and the fact that we put everything on the line two days earlier against CVCA, it was a fun match to [see everyone contribute] in a situation where we could have thrown in the towel; and we didn’t.”
In a league match against St. Thomas Aquinas, WRA fell behind early and knew their opponents would be more than content to sit back and take the onslaught of the attack. Instead, Haller regrouped his squad at halftime, made adjustments — such as switching their formation from the Reserve-standard 4-3-3 — which ultimately helped the team respond in a positive manner and play pretty great soccer — and win!
As next year approaches, Haller notes how the transition into the 2016 will mirror this past season’s.
“In 2014–15, we graduated our leading scorer,” said Haller. “This year, we graduate Matt. Every year, when I look ahead, I wonder who is going to pick up the scoring. I do wonder for next year. However, we have a very good core of young, talented players who gained valuable experience and playing time this year. I expect this team to be ready in August to improve upon what we established this year.”
For the 2016 season, Alex Waye ’17 and Campana will captain the team.