Rhinebeck’s varsity boys soccer squad was one of the local teams that made the most noise last year: In a 17-1 season, the Hawks managed to grab both the Mid-Hudson Athletic League title, in a 1-0 win over Marlboro, and the Section IX, Class C title, in a 4-1 route of S.S. Seward.
It won’t be as easy this year, considering that the program has been reclassified from Class C to Class B, ensuring stiffer competition for the Hawks in 2013.
“While our league schedule won’t really change too much, we will have our hands full if we are fortunate enough to make it to the postseason,” Rhinebeck head coach Justin Wisenthal told The Observer. “While all the teams in Section IX are competitive, the Class B tournament has always been filled with excellent teams.”
The Hawks will be returning with two key offensive players for the new season: Nick Hoynes and Seth McLenahan are both forwards and captains, and were 20-goal scorers in the 2012 season, while McLenahan led the MHAL in scoring. They’ll be helped by the all-junior midfield trio of Andy Rosenzweig, Ian Katomski, and Eric Rodriguez.
Although the offense is set, Wisenthal is a little unsettled on what the defense will look like.
“We certainly want to work on defending as a team. While we have a bunch of returners on the offensive side of the ball, it’s important that we continue to defend as a squad,” said Wisenthal. The Hawks will have a definite stopper, however, in senior goalie Connor Bolton.
Although Wisenthal is confident that his team has what it takes to compete for the Class B title, be on the lookout for minor growing pains. The transition from Class C to Class B won’t be a breeze for Rhinebeck, but it also won’t be a stumbling block considering the amount of returning talent.
“With some hard work, determination and chemistry, we hope to be successful,” Wisenthal predicted.
Rhinebeck’s first game of 2013 will be at Pine Plains against the Bombers on Sept. 5 at 4:15pm, and the Hawks will host their first non-tournament match on Sept. 10 against Dover, also at 4:15pm.
Things aren’t as clear on the Red Hook side of the soccer field. After finishing 9-6 overall and 5-3 in division, the Raiders didn’t make any waves in the 2012 postseason.
The team will be returning starters Zack Sivulich, Dennis Hare, Jake Gomez, and Kosei Iwamoto, and according to Red Hook head coach Steve Sutton, “all look sharp.” Others returning include Isaac Tondini, Luke White, David Uridia, and Brandon Voll.
In 2012, the Raiders had a habit of scoring blowout wins, outscoring opponents 31-7 in their victories, but dropping tight games. Sutton, accordingly, said that his team’s focus this year will be on closing-out in game situations.
“Our focus this season is finishing. We need to finish drills, practices, scoring opportunities, matches, and finish our season playing for championship(s),” he told The Observer.
“We are focusing a lot on improving the consistency of our play and playing with more speed,” he added.
Red Hook will open the season on the road at Rondout Valley on Sept. 10 at 4:15pm, and will have their home opener against Washingtonville on Sept. 14 at 11am.