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FALL PREVIEW Staples boys soccer to lean on selfless, versatile group

Updated 12:42 pm, Monday, September 9, 2013

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  • Staples' Jack Scott plays the ball forward during the Wreckers' soccer matchup with New Canaan at Staples High School in Westport on Monday, October 22, 2012. Photo: Brian A. Pounds / Connecticut Post
    Staples' Jack Scott plays the ball forward during the Wreckers' soccer matchup with New Canaan at Staples High School in Westport on Monday, October 22, 2012. Photo: Brian A. Pounds

 

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Staples High's boys soccer team graduated 12 seniors and lost one player to the U.S. Developmental Academy.

Such departures have left the Wreckers without a clear-cut top scorer, but longtime coach Dan Woog doesn't necessarily see that as a problem.

"We're going to get goals from a ton of different people. We're going to get them on rebounds, we're going to get them on headers," said Woog, now in his 11th year at the helm. "We will be tough to defend because there's not one player for everbody to key on. The kids embrace that."

Staples -- 11-6-2 last year with losses in the FCIAC quarterfinals and Class LL state second round -- returns a deep, versatile group captained by seniors Diego Alanis and Jack Scott. Each captain will likely see time this year at both forward and midfield.

"We love what we have coming back, led by our two captains," Woog said. "Both of them have been spectacular captains already in terms of offseason work. They instituted a tremendous fitness program, they got people playing together."

Other returning seniors include Charlie Leonard, who will play both midfield and defense, and defenders George Kokkalis and Connor Weiler. Also back for a final season is Yousef Shahin, who will slide up from defense to midfield.

"Many of these seniors have become much stronger in the offseason, which is great to see," Woog said.

Staples also has experience in junior forwards Nate Argosh and Patrick Beusse, along with midfielders Andrew Puchala -- a "dominant" player, according to Woog -- and Michael Reid. Sophomore Joe Pravder, a forward and midfielder, is also returning.

Sophomore Noah Schwaeber will start in goal after seeing limited time last year behind James Hickok, who's now playing at Dartmouth College as a freshman. Woog called Hickok's departure a "big loss" but is confident that Schwaeber can make a smooth transition into the featured role.

"Noah is smart, he's quick and he is very, very coachable," Woog said.

Staples will add newcomers in a pair of seniors, forward Andreas Bru and defender Foster Goldberg, and junior defender Gabe Pensak.

The Wreckers will open their season by hosting Danbury on Tuesday at 4 p.m.

Woog spoke glowingly about his team's selfless, dedicated attitude.

"This attitude could be the best I've ever seen here in terms of chemistry and working together," he said. "They know they're going to have to fight for everything, they know it's a tough league. They know that they might not individually have any superstars, but collectively they really have a mission."

dbonjour@scni.com; 203-255-4561 ext. 114; twitter.com/DougBonjour

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