MacArthur’s boys’ soccer team is off to a fast start in a season it hopes extends into November.
A 2-1 non-league win against East Meadow last Saturday moved the Generals to 6-1-1 on the new campaign. The Generals entered 2017 off back-to-back first round losses after winning the program’s first county title in 2014.
“The main focus of this season is all in,” coach Andy Atkins said. “The guys are buying in.”
The East Meadow victory followed a 2-0 shutout at Sewanhaka on Sept. 18 that featured goals from sophomore Ken Barrett and senior Dan Conigliaro. The league win moved the Generals to 4-1-1 in Conference A-1 and in position to grab one of the top seeds for playoffs that begin in late October if they keep up the momentum.
MacArthur boasts a stout defense led by senior sweeper Andrew Sweeney. The four-year varsity player and three-year starter has keyed three shutouts early in the season. He also stepped offensively with a clutch penalty kick goal in a 1-1 tie with South Side on Sept. 15.
“He’s been so solid on the backline,” Atkins said of Sweeney. “He’s the key to our defense.”
Sweeney anchors a backline that features Brandon Buchan, Jack Kipnes and Sean Duffe. Senior goalie Christian Bellia has stepped in his first season as starting keeper and recorded five saves in a 1-0 victory at Great Neck South on Sept. 13.
“He had very big shoes to fill,” said Atkins of Bellia, who replaced three-year starter Sean Lyons in net. “He has stepped in and is doing the job.”
MacArthur’s strong defense is getting support on the offensive end of the field from Conigliaro’s eight goals and two tallies by senior Nick Cino. The first seven matches also featured nine different point producers led by Conigliaro and Nick Gino along with Ken Barrett, Joe Gino, Matt Metzger, Traenkle, Ben Mass, Tim Weber and Sweeney.
“They are going to mark Dan [Conigliaro] and it’s good that other guys are stepping up,” said Atkins of the diversity of scoring early on in the season. “We’re scoring more than we have the past couple years.”
Atkins has emphasized the importance of teamwork this season and each individual player knowing their role. The players died their hair blonde and Atkins has seen some signs of progress with team chemistry, but he said more unity is ultimately needed for the Generals to march to a championship.
‘We definitely have to come together as a team,” Atkins said. “Individuals have to sacrifice for the good of the team.”
MacArthur travels to New Hyde Park this Thursday and then returns home next Tuesday versus Great Neck North. The Generals close the regular season under the lights against Mepham on Oct. 10 at 7 p.m.
“Destiny is in our hands and if we keep winning we should be well positioned for the playoffs,” Atkins said. “We just have to keep doing what we’re doing.”