After an unexpected run to the county semifinals as a lower seed, Wantagh boys’ soccer is focused on returning to the playoffs and piecing together another deep postseason run.
The Warriors return 13 seniors from last year’s 10-4-1 team that fell just one win shy of the Class A finals after entering the playoffs as a nine seed. Much of Wantagh’s scoring graduated, longtime head coach Tom Liguori sees potential from his 21-player roster for another late October push.
“We graduated a bunch of goals,” said Liguori referring to losses of offensive threats like Liam Ireland and Nick Cerasi. “We’re going to be more of a defensive team this season and have more guys involved with scoring.”
Senior tri-captains Brendan Harrington, Harrison Kane and Zach Moussa will lead Wantagh’s march to try and claim the program’s first county title since the 1992 team captured a state championship. Harrington and Moussa help anchor the defense while Kane is a key component of the Warriors’ offensive attack.
“They all bring a little something different to the table,” said Liguori of his captains. “They are great kids.”
Senior goalie Drew Donaghy took over the starting net-minder role following the graduation of Matthew Reich. Donaghy got experience in net last year and was active in his first start as a senior this season with five saves in a 1-1 tie against Bellmore-JFK on Sept. 8.
“He is very disciplined,” said Liguori of Donaghy. “He is someone we can rely on.”
Donaghy patrols the net in front of a deep backline that held Floral Park scoreless in a 1-0 win on Sept. 12 in the Warriors’ Conference A-V opener. Liguori has plenty of defenders to utilize including Scott Bindell, Joe DiMatteo, John Bednor, Harrington and Moussa.
“We have a lot of depth which is always a good thing for a coach,” Liguori said. “It’s a good problem to have.”
Liguori expects a balanced offensive attack this season from versatile forwards Michael Coney and Kane. The duo can also play in the middle of the field along with midfielders Nick Celli, Austin Henglein, TJ Cerasi, Eddie Draude.
Wantagh’s lone goal in the Floral Park win was courtesy of a Coney cross headed in by Draude in the 19th minute. Coney scored the Warriors’ first goal of the 2018 season in the 1-1 tie against JFK and Celli netted one in a 1-1 draw with Valley Stream North Friday.
“We aren’t going to be leaning on one scorer up top,” Liguori said. “We are going to need goals this year from unassuming guys.”
Wantagh is next in action at Lynbrook before hosting Island Trees this Saturday at 10 a.m. The Warriors can return to the playoffs by achieving at least a .500 record or placing among the top three in League-VI, which also features Lawrence, Lynbrook, Floral Park and Valley Stream North.
“Last year is an example that if you get into the playoffs it doesn’t matter what your seed is,” Liguori said. “Any team that makes the playoffs has a shot.”