Marcos Monteagudo thought he had a home with Blind Brook boys soccer, until the Scarsdale job opened up this spring with the stepping down of five-year coach Paul Brooks. The opportunity to coach a competitive program in Class AA doesn’t come up often and Monteagudo didn’t want to regret not seizing the opportunity.
“Leaving Blind Brook was really hard, just a great group of kids, a supportive A.D., and it was a tough decision to leave that group,” Monteagudo said. “What made me want to come here was the opportunity to coach at a place like Scarsdale. It was too hard to pass up. This type of train doesn’t pass often. I figured I had to get on it.”
Boys soccer was the lone head varsity coaching position Scarsdale athletic director Ray Pappalardi had to fill for the fall and once again he said he was impressed with “some incredibly high-level candidates” from a “soccer expertise standpoint.” There were two main finalists that he said the players would have been pleased with either way.
Pappalardi liked Monteagudo’s playing and coaching background, his familiarity with Section 1 and his references, which “came back outstanding,” including from Blind Brook athletic director D.J. Goldman, who was Pappalardi’s assistant A.D. at Edgemont for many years. “It was a tough (phone) call to make because it was a little bit late in the year, but D.J. had nothing but great things to say about him,” Pappalardi said.
Monteagudo had some interaction with Scarsdale’s returning players through the interview process.
“Having the boys so involved in the process shows how much they care about the program,” Monteagudo said. “That’s something I left with good feelings about because they are willing to take their time. I’m not the only person they interviewed and my interviews were 35 or 40 minutes. They probably did that multiple times, so it goes to show they are invested. That’s going to be one of our main pillars, being invested.”
After a four-year career at Iona College — he played with his older brother Diego, was captain senior year and graduated in 2006 — Monteagudo got right into coaching at Salesian for a year, Iona Prep for four years (state title in 2009) and then as an assistant at Iona College under his former coach, Fernando Barboto. After taking some time off, Monteagudo was at Blind Brook the last two falls.
Monteagudo taught Spanish before becoming a guidance counselor five years ago. This fall he starts his second year at White Plains after being at Eastchester before that.
Monteagudo, a 2001 Harrison High School graduate, played for Emilio Martin in high school. Martin and Barboto are the ones who inspired him to stay in the game through coaching.
“I just love the game and I wasn’t good enough to be professional,” Monteagudo said. “I figured let me stay connected to the game somehow. Coaching was a natural profession for me.” He added, “Those are two guys that made me want to coach for sure.”
Blind Brook had solid success under Monteagudo in Class B, being one of the top teams in the section.
“I had a really, really talented pool of players the last two years and even moving into this next year it was going to be pretty talented as well,” he said. “It was a pretty hard place to leave, but we were at the very top of the section both seasons and it was a lot of fun.”
Monteagudo doesn’t know what type of skill level this year’s Scarsdale team will have, but once he gets a feel for the types of players he will be able to formulate plans for training and games.
“I don’t know what formation I’m playing yet because I haven’t seen these kids play,” he said. “I could say that at Blind Brook we were in a certain formation the first two years and we had a lot of graduates, so next year I wasn’t planning on playing the same formation because it wasn’t going to fit the mold of the team. I really don’t know what we’re going to look like here at Scarsdale yet until I start to see the boys, but I think their dynamic will shape what we look like.”
The plan is to get some open field nights in early August for the entire high school prior to preseason to start the getting-to-know-you process for coach and players alike.
“Our goals will start to form in preseason,” Monteagudo said. “I have a little learning curve myself with AA. I’m from around here and I understand Arlington, John Jay, Ketcham, those teams are always going to be good. White Plains is always typically good, Mamaroneck, New Rochelle. That’s part of the reason I’m taking the challenge on. There’s so many unbelievable teams. Once I get my 20 or 24 guys we can start setting some realistic goals.”
Brooks succeeded Joe Cipriano, who led the Raiders to three Section 1 finals, including one outright championship, in four years toward the end of his coaching run. Brooks was 48-29-8 over his five seasons. The Raiders had strong records the first three years, but with weak starts were unable to have winning records the last two seasons.
Postseason was a different story, however, as the Raiders lost by one goal (or one penalty kick) every year, including twice in the Class AA semifinals.
While results are important to Monteagudo, that’s not the bigger picture of him as a coach and mentor.
“I really care not only about wins and losses, but about my players,” he said. “If I can be of any help to them moving on to the college game if that’s something they are interested in, or helping to find an internship. Whatever it is they are going to get a level of care out of me, a high level of energy. I would expect that same high level of energy and that same level of care out of my players.
“I’m hoping they can reciprocate that and from there I’m hoping the wins sort of take care of themselves. At a place like Scarsdale I’d imagine there’s talent.”
Pappalardi is excited to have Monteagudo, who also has club experience, currently with the Westchester Flames, on board.
“For us we were looking for somebody with experience, someone who could relate with the kids, who the kids would respect and respond to,” Pappalardi said. “In the interview the connection between the kids and him was really self-evident. I think the boys are in a very good position from a skillset standpoint and I think they will need time to connect with the coach.”