By way of introduction, at the summer’s first practice, first-year head coach Patric Turk defied any of his Oceanside boys’ soccer players to beat him flat-out in a footrace.
“I tell them I’m twice their age and they should all beat me in a sprint,” said Turk, fresh off a 10-year stint helming Oceanside’s JV squad. “Well,” Turk laughed, “not all of them beat me. I guess I don’t have to hang it up yet.”
The point of the exercise, Turk explained, was twofold – to establish himself as part of the team, and make it plain to his players from the outset that 2017 presents a season of unremitting challenge for the Sailors.
Having graduated 17 seniors from last year’s club – which finished 7-2-3 in Conference AA2, 7-3-3 overall, and lost to eventual Long Island champion Calhoun 1-0 in the Class AA quarterfinals – Oceanside starts with a new cast virtually across the board.
“The percentage we lost to graduation is unprecedented,” Turk said. “I think all the players now are trying to find themselves, find a way into the mix.”
A small veteran core remains from last year’s Oceanside unit, headed by three returning starters. Team co-captains Arkadij (AJ) Raiz and Gianluca (Luca) Ancona, both seniors, will lead the Sailors on offense as center midfielders.
“AJ is a special talent who understands the game,” Turk said. “He’s developed his footwork to put himself above most players he faces. Luca is one of our most dedicated players and a leader.”
Senior returning starter Adam Murasso – also a team co-captain – will be Oceanside’s dean and defensive point man, at both outside and center back, with senior Marvin Santos and junior Peter Folias as outside defenders.
“This year Adam Murasso is anchoring our defense,” Turk said. “He’s a huge asset helping our younger guys learn the way that we play here.”
Pervasive personnel changes notwithstanding, Oceanside’s overall look should not be unfamiliar to fans, Turk assured, as the Sailors will play their traditional possession style of soccer.
“We’ve tried to keep the system that works best,” Turk said. “Even on JV I had success with that style.”
Co-captain Teddy Tsakos, a junior, starts as a third midfielder, while senior Vincenzo D’anna and junior Randy Lorenzo are the Sailors’ first-string forwards.
“Vincenzo and Randy are very similar,” Turk said. “They’re both very creative, and can score goals.”
With regard to preventing goals, Oceanside is taking a platoon approach to net-minding, with junior goalkeepers Andrew Keller and Ryan Downing alternating starts between the posts.
“They have the best attitude,” Turk said of his goalie tandem. “They’re not in competition; they’re training partners. It doesn’t always happen that way.”
Oceanside’s season got under way September 5 with a 1-0 home loss to Farmingdale, followed by a 2-0 defeat at Syosset on Sept. 7.
“There’ll be some early moments where we’re not so fluid,” Turk said. “But the boys will get comfortable. They put in a lot of work, and we’re looking forward to re-introducing ourselves to the conference.”