Weekly Feature



2018-09-12 / Sports

Young Marauders soccer squad leans on defense to start 5-1

TAYLOR NIGRELLI
Sports Reporter


Sean Droman of St. Joe’s wins a corner kick battle with Nick Levea of St. Mary’s in a game Saturday. The Marauders would go on to win 1-0, improving the team’s record to 5-1 on the season. 
Photo by Jake French Sean Droman of St. Joe’s wins a corner kick battle with Nick Levea of St. Mary’s in a game Saturday. The Marauders would go on to win 1-0, improving the team’s record to 5-1 on the season. Photo by Jake French Youth and a lack of experience have not at all slowed down the St. Joe’s soccer program.

Despite turning over almost all of last year’s squad due to graduation and featuring the youngest team they’ve had in more than a decade, the Marauders have started the season 5-1 overall and 1-0 in Monsignor Martin play.

The team has won in a variety of ways, including blowout wins over Iroquois and St. Francis and a close victory eked out over St. Mary’s. Saturday’s win that moved the team to 5-1 took more energy than the team expected, but they were able to get the victory anyway. That’s an impressive performance for a team that is so young.

“To use a golf analogy, we hit the tee to green well but we couldn’t finish to save our lives,” St. Joe’s coach Mike Thoin said. “The St. Mary’s goalie played reasonably well, but we had at least 30 shots that either hit the post or right at the goalie. We couldn’t finish; it was very strange. But we found a way to get the win. When you have a team that young, it’s a good sign.”

The only loss of the season so far came against Clarence by a score of 2-1. There were several St. Joe’s players who were not able to play. Nonetheless, it was a tie game late when Clarence muscled in the winning score.

“We lost to Clarence 2-1,” Thoin said. “We had a handful of players that were not there. Clarence is very good, so we were not too upset about it. They scored in a scrum in front of the net and scored. They’re a little bigger than us, so that’s going to happen over the course of the season.”

Overall, the team has outscored the opposition 23-3 in six games. Only two of those goals have been through the course of play as the other came on a penalty kick. Four of the wins have been shutouts.

“I was thrilled to death,” Thoin said. “After those six games, to be 5-1 means we are ahead of schedule. I couldn’t be more pleased; we’re starting to figure out what we need to do.”

Team defense was the main strength last season when the team won the Monsignor Martin title. There are a few guys back from last year, but others have filled in well.

“I’ve got three or four defenders back from last year,” Thoin said. “The kids that played with us, but weren’t starters last year, meshed right away. They worked their tails off. They turn chances away and don’t let other teams take clean shots.”

One of the keys to the defense has been captain and centerback Matthaeus Hendricks.

“We moved him out of the midfield back to defense, and he is playing wonderfully,” Thoin said. “He has a good first touch and is incredibly fast. He plays over the top and can outrun anyone on the back.”

Mason Graham has also played well. Joe Fronczak has 12 goals already in six games. He’s scored in every game, including the lone goal in Saturday’s win. He had several other opportunities to add to that total. Meanwhile, Evan Benz and Max Kwitchoff are running the show in the midfield.

The team has three games this week, starting with a game Tuesday against Bishop Timon that did not end by press time. They’ll take on Grand Island Wednesday on the road and East Aurora Saturday at home. Then, they’ll have Nichols, Canisius and Kenmore East the next week. Things are not about to get any easier for the Marauders.

“I would love to get three wins this week,” Thoin said. “That would be wonderful. The East Aurora game is a tough game, but it should be fun. Coach Beale always has a tough team. The next week should be even more crazy. It won’t get any easier. We play a good, hard schedule to be ready for the playoffs.”

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