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ARLINGTON BOYS SOCCER LEANING ON EXPERIENCE

Admirals Return Nine Seniors From Last Season

By John Ziehl
Special to HVSR

In many respects, the Arlington High School boys soccer team is like the New York Yankees. A 13-6 record last year, including 7-1 in league play, and a trip to the Section 1, Class AA semifinals.

But, like the Yanks, walking away without a title is not what the Admirals wanted.

This fall, in a truncated season that begins Thursday against Mahopac, Arlington starts its quest for a league title with an experienced team returning.

While his team will be without some key players from last year including top goal scorer Franco Colantuono and goalkeeper Nicholas Grippo, Admirals’ coach Craig Sanborn believes his returning talent is capable of achieving great things this season. With nine seniors returning from last year, Sanborn described his group as “very experienced with a lot of leadership.”

Sanborn said he will rely on players like senior midfielders Shaun Smith and Kamran Payman to be vocal and help control the team dynamic on and off the field.

Going into this season, with a similar philosophy to last year, Sanborn expressed the importance of senior forward James Conca and sophomore forward Michael Cocca. While playing a very aggressive style of soccer, Sanborn stresses that “defense starts with the forwards.” If the forwards can keep the opposing teams defenders from clearing the ball, then the ball will always be in the opposing teams half, thus providing more opportunities to score.

Sanborn encourages getting shots on net and forcing corner kicks. Keeping this pressure up for

90 minutes on the goalie and the defenders ultimately leads to mistakes occurring, and that is where Arlington tends to capitalize. Last season, Arlington took 35 more shots on net than the opponents they faced and took 41 more corner kicks.

While Sanborn tends to install an aggressive play style, that is not without a sturdy back line preventing shots on net. This year Sanborn will be looking at senior defender Andrew Merocho to hold the back line strong. While it is uncertain whether he will be playing center back or defensive midfield, Merocho will take on the responsibility of being the voice of the defense and defensive anchor.

Brendan Corrigan will be the last line of defense as he will be starting in goal this year. Corrigan is very quick, athletic, and has all the physical tools needed to be a successful goalkeeper. While athletic, he does lack experience in net as he had only played in one game last season.

With the season quickly approaching, Sanborn emphasized the importance of easing into practice. Due to COVID-19, Sanborn has lost the normal preseason with his team, and in turn instrumental time that would have been spent conditioning and getting his players prepared for the grueling season ahead. Sanborn noticed his team was out of shape coming into tryouts and that his boys were in desperate need of conditioning. Though this was evident, Sanborn is an experienced coach and, under the circumstances, knows not to overwork them. With such a short preseason and little time to prepare, in addition to the frequency of games ahead, Sanborn plans to ease into conditioning.

“The most important part to our success comes with staying healthy,” Sanborn said. “We have to be careful to prevent the risk of any injuries.”

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