The North Shore boys’ soccer team enters the 2017 campaign returning eight players with varsity experience. Coming off of a 2-9-2 season, the Vikings look to not only their top players, but their depth as a whole, to bring better results.
“We’re pretty deep as a team this year,” head coach Mike Bishop said. “We’re carrying 24 players, and we’ve got a bunch of guys that are capable of playing.”
Some of those players have already made an impact as the Vikings split their first two Conference A-II games with a 1-0 road loss to Roosevelt and a 3-0 win in their home opener against Lynbrook.
A large number of Vikings got involved in the home opener last Friday, as Gyan Hawkins opened up the scoring side off of an assist from Antonio George late in the first half. Then, juniors Jaedon Seneca and Florian Skulminowski followed up with a goal apiece off of assists from seniors Michael Gilligan and Jose Vela, respectively.
With six different players nabbing a point in the first victory of the year, Bishop’s words begin to ring true.
“We’ve got guys that can come off the bench for us and play like starters,” Bishop said. “Through the few games we’ve had, I’ve already switched up the starting lineup, and I think that’s because we have options.”
One such player who has not been scratched from a start is Rocco Agostino, the team’s starting goalkeeper who made 8 saves in the home opener and is returning from taking a year off from the school team to play for a local academy. With a talented keeper like Agostino in net, the Vikings should have a solid security blanket.
Manning the central defensive half for the Vikings is senior captain and centre-back Jared Okuniwitz. “Jared is a very experienced player and a leader of this defense,” Bishop said. Okuniwitz leads the way for this defensive force, but is aided by centre-defensive midfielder Lucas Hess, another leader of this team according to Bishop.
Also, more than a couple Vikings are looking to go on and play college soccer at a high level. “We’ve got a few guys like Florian, Gilligan, and a few others who are being recruited to play at the college level,” Bishop said.
After a tough season in the 2016 campaign, the Vikings are looking forward to a familiar schedule to try and gain back some wins from past year’s competitors.
One such competitor is rival Glen Cove, which last year captured the county championship. It’s a matchup Bishop has his eye on.
“I think Glen Cove is a game we’re looking at closely,” Bishop said. “I think that is a good gauge for us to see how far we’ve come along. They're a good team and with the proximity, obviously, it’s somewhat of a rival game.”
As for North Shore’s preparation, Bishop was very clear: “We are a young program, but there is a seriousness that the whole program is showing this year. There is a seriousness about the way we are going about things, and I think it’s infectious.”