The Staples boys soccer team is taking extra steps to ensure it's ready for the gauntlet of opponents that the FCIAC will provide this fall.
Referring to it as the toughest preseason they've ever had, 12th year coach Dan Woog wants the Wreckers in the right mindset when they open their season at home Sept. 9 against St. Joseph.
Staples faced state power Fairfield Prep Thursday (a 2-2 tie), traveled to prep school giant South Kent Friday (a 2-0 defeat) and will take on New York City school Martin Luther King Sunday. The trio of opponents will likely be harder than any the Wreckers encounter during the regular season.
"The idea is test ourselves early," Woog said. "I know what we need to work on; maybe get hammered a couple of times and prepare for a great season ahead."
Staples graduated a number of key contributors from last season, including Diego Alanis, Jack Scott, Charlie Leonard, George Kokkalis and Connor Weiler. The Wreckers went 12-6-2 a year ago after an 8-1-1 start and bowed out in the quarterfinals of both FCIACs and States.
This term, the Wreckers will be captained by Patrick Beusse (defense/midfield), Andrew Puchala (defense) and Michael Reid (midfielder). All are three-year starters and bring something different, according to Woog.
"(Beusse) brings tremendous passion, excellent leadership, good on the ball and a wonderful problem solver," Woog said. "(Puchala) is a hard-nosed (defender), excellent in the air, anchors our defense. He's a rock in the back. (Reid) is an excellent distributor, very deft touch, great vision and a real leader."
The captains will be joined by fellow seniors Gabe Pensak (defense) and Nate Argosh (striker).
Junior goalie Noah Schwaeber is nursing a broken finger and is competition with Ziggy Hallgarten and Brenden Price for playing time.
Staples gets an early chance to avenge its FCIAC quarterfinal defeat to Wilton in its second match of the season (Sept. 11). The Wreckers host rival and defending FCIAC champion Greenwich Oct. 15.
"We have some payback due against Wilton, which knocked us out of FCIACs," Woog said. "Also there is Greenwich, which hammered us (4-1) during the regular season. ... (We) have to play one game at a time; can't look ahead to October because there is a lot to get through in September."
Regardless of who takes the pitch, Woog wants his group to be united on the field with an attacking mindset.
"We want to be an attacking team," Woog said. "We want to be a pressuring team; we want to be a hardworking unit with no superstars. Just very good depth and no drama."