Ten seniors graduated after the 2017 season. Nine more this year. Add in a new head coach and the Scarsdale boys soccer team has seen a lot of change in a short period of time.
None of that mattered to Luca Schettino, however. After sitting out last fall with an injury, the junior earned the starting goalie spot for coach Marcos Monteagudo and the Raiders and through two games the results speak for themselves.
Scarsdale is 0-1-1, falling 1-0 to Ardsley on opening day and tying Horace Greeley 1-1 after two 10-minute overtime periods. Schettino made four saves in the first game, six in the second, including two monstrous efforts that kept the game within reach.
“Both games were good and today was exceptionally good,” Monteagudo said of his keeper. “I don’t think Greeley tested us often, but when they did they were really great chances because they played good soccer. When they got through they were really dangerous. That save he made there in the second half was incredible. We’re pretty happy with what Luca has done so far.”
The pressure is on, however, as sophomore back-up Adam Katcher is making a case for playing time. “He’s being challenged every practice and that shows here in the games,” Monteagudo said.
Replacing graduated goalie Ben Lehrburger wasn’t easy having not played last year. “I was a little rusty at first,” Schettino said. “I wasn’t as good as I was before and now I’m feeling a lot more confident.”
The competition has helped bring out the best in Schettino as Ardsley has a shot to win Class B and Greeley is a strong large school. “The competition has been good,” Schettino said. “They’re challenging me with a lot of shots, very different shots, challenging shots.”
Luke Peltz, Adam Wasserman, Kian Batliwalla and Roman Tirabassi are playing solid defense in front of him, with Batliwalla making standout plays from midfield and at the goal line in helping secure the draw with Greeley. “Kian showed a lot of grit today,” Schettino said. “I was really happy when he helped me out over there and saved that ball off the goal line.”
Zachary Medvinsky scored assisted by Esteban Rudloff. It was Scarsdale’s first goal of the season. “It’s good to see our seniors propel us to a draw,” Monteagudo said.
Monteagudo wasn’t thrilled to see his team expend extra energy in overtime in the second game with two more coming up later in the week, but was pleased to see his team weather the storm.
“The two OTs really is a shame with a three-game week and we’re kicking it off with a hundred minutes of soccer,” Monteagudo said. “It’s not really what you look for as a coach when it’s the first of three in six days, but credit to the guys, they never quit, never stopped and we very easily could have won the game, just as Greeley could have.”
Both teams had opportunities to win the game.
“In the first half we had four or five golden opportunities to score and we didn’t finish, so that’s something we’ll work on, finishing and capitalizing on the opportunities we create,” Monteagudo said. “If we took advantage we could have easily won this game. We’re happy with the way we played against a very good team and it’s good to bounce back from the loss Thursday. I know it’s not a win, not what everybody wanted, but against a good Greeley side I think it was a good showcase of high school soccer early in the season.”
What stood out for senior Ben Rubin was how much depth his team has. It showed in the overtime game.
“It’s tough on the players, but we have a lot of subs who are capable of switching in each position,” Rubin said. “We basically had the whole roster swap in. We’ve got each other’s backs, so basically we have to keep working.”
The first game of the season was on Ardsley’s natural grass field, which Monteagudo noted is a tough place to play since the grass isn’t manicured well, which changes the way the game is played.
“Ardsley is a tough place to play… and it turns into a game of kick and run,” he said. “At times I think we were kicking a little too much and running a little too much today. You could see we attempted to play on the ground, so it really hurt us. And we played a good Ardsley team. A lot of teams out there schedule their first game and it’s somebody hypothetically winnable, whereas Ardsley could win Class B this year. And we went to them, so we weren’t trying to shy away from competition.”
The last two years have seen slow starts for Scarsdale, but the fact that the defense has been standing its ground and the offense has had chances early on is a good sign for the Raiders.
“Collectively the boys are buying in to what we’re trying to do and if we continue working the way we’re working the year will pan out the way we want it to,” Monteagudo said.
For Rubin, that means a Section 1 championship.
“We’ve got to peak at the right time,” Rubin said. “Everything we do now, as coach said, it’s building up for playoffs. Yes we want to win every game. Every game is important for seeding, but at the end of the day we have to peak at the right time, which is playoffs.”
The team’s motto is “Word hard, work fast,” but that’s on the field. Off the field the chemistry has been building with team breakfasts, lunches and a barbecue. “Everyone knows each other, everyone is working for each other and I think that shows in the field,” Rubin said.
Energy is high in practices and in games and that stems from Monteagudo.
“He’s motivated us since preseason with two-a-days,” Rubin said. “Everyone was enjoying it, everyone was pushing each other and I think there’s a lot of positive energy.”
Schettino has the best vantage point as the goalie and if there’s one message he can offer his teammates, it’s simple: “We can play.”